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Appendix 1: Concepts and Definitions

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A household is defined as a single person or group of people who regularly reside together in the same accommodation and who share the same catering arrangements.  The household members defined in this fashion are not necessarily related by blood or by marriage.  Thus, resident domestic servants and boarders (i.e. persons paying to share the household accommodation and meals), are included.  Any other individual or group of people living in the same dwelling constitute a separate household or households if they have separate catering arrangements.

The following criteria are applied in the survey to certain categories of persons to decide whether or not they are members of a particular household:

(i)  Family members who permanently live and work away from home are not included in their home household even though they return on holidays, (if they are visiting the home household during the survey period they are treated as visitors and excluded)

(ii)  Children away at primary and secondary boarding school are included as members of their parents’ households, but older persons receiving higher education away from home, (e.g. at University, Teacher or Garda Training College etc.), are included as members only if they are at home for the full fourteen day period of diary record-keeping (e.g. during vacations). 

(iii)  Family members working away from home who contribute to the income of their home household are included as members of the household only if they return home at least one night each week.

(iv)  Family members who do not contribute to the income of their home household and who are regularly away from home for part of each week are included as members of the household only if they spend at least four nights at home each week.

(v)  Boarders are included in the household only if they reside there for at least four nights a week and have at least one meal each day with the family when they are in residence.

(vi)  Family members temporarily away on holiday, on business or in hospital are included as members of the household unless they have been away continuously for more than six months prior to the Interviewer’s visit.

(vii)  Visitors and temporary members of the household are included as household members only if they have resided continuously in the household for more than six months prior to the interview.

The household reference person is the person in whose name the accommodation was owned or rented.  Where the mortgage/rent is jointly paid, the respondent with the highest income is taken as the reference person.  In cases where household members receive an equal salary, the eldest member is taken as the reference person.

Children are defined as household members under fourteen years of age for the purpose of classifying clothing expenditure between adults (men and women) and children (boys and girls).  Clothing purchased for infants under two years of age are classified as baby wear.  The principal household composition classification used for the presentation of results is also based on children aged less than fourteen years of age. 

Household Expenditure

The household expenditure concept used in the 2015-2016 survey was equivalent to that used in earlier inquiries.  It is defined as:

(i)  All expenditure incurred by household members with the exceptions of:

(a)  Repayments of personal loans and debts other than house purchase mortgage repayments

(b)  Regular and ad hoc savings (other than life assurance), and purchases of stocks, shares, other investments and property

(c)  Direct personal taxation (i.e. income tax and social insurance deductions)

(d)  Business expenses

(ii)  Retail value of home-grown produce (i.e. from own garden or farm) consumed by the household

(iii)  Certain payments by employers of health insurance, life insurance premiums and leisure club fees for their employees; household expenses (e.g. rent, electricity etc.) regularly paid by non-residents (e.g. relatives, friends, charitable organisations etc.).  The estimated benefit-in-kind to employees from the use of company cars is also included in expenditure on new cars. 

Income tax payments and social insurance deductions are not included in household expenditure as they are treated as charges on household income.  The values accruing under the household expenditure components (ii) and (iii) above are also included on the income side.           

In Irish surveys of this type, expenditure is traditionally recorded in the diaries on a payment basis, i.e. respondents record individual payments personally made each day even if the goods were delivered previously or are going to be delivered later.  Experience has shown that this payment approach is more suited to Irish conditions than the alternative acquisition or consumption methods.  The major advantage of the payment approach is that it is a relatively simple procedure for respondents to understand and follow and, as expenditure is recorded almost concurrently with the actual payments, there is less likelihood of errors being made.

Under these payments based diary completion procedures, any goods ordered or delivered but not paid for are ignored unless they are acquired through one of the following credit arrangements: 

(1)  Hire purchases (i.e. instalment credit)

Hire purchase payments always relate to specific items and expenditure on transactions of this kind are summarised in the survey by combining the instalment payments being made on the occasion of the interview with the cash down-payments made on any articles acquired in this fashion during the three months prior to the interview and the fourteen day period of record-keeping.  The weekly equivalent values of these expenditures are included in the average weekly expenditure derived for individual commodity headings. 

(2)  Budget or credit clubs

These are credit purchase arrangements whereby articles are purchased against regular advance payments.  Respondents are asked to list the individual goods acquired through these budget or credit clubs during the fourteen days of record keeping, and they are also asked to list any other acquisitions made during the month proceeding at the interview stage.  The cash price and the date acquired are recorded and the weekly average expenditure value of these expenditures are included in the average weekly expenditure derived for individual commodity headings.

Details of regular household payments (e.g. rent, mortgage repayments, house insurance premiums, electricity, telephone etc.) and personal payments (e.g. licenses, life assurance, education fees etc.) are recorded in the interview questionnaire. Retrospective questions generally relating to the twelve months preceding the interview are also traditionally used in the survey for a limited number of major and easily remembered irregular outlays, such as purchases of central heating oil and motor cars, domestic appliances, audio-acoustic goods, work of outside contractors and bulk purchases of solid fuel, private health insurance refunds and holiday expenses.  During processing, diary entries relating to items covered in the interview are deleted to avoid double counts.  Computerised validation checks based on corresponding expenditure code ranges ensure that there are no duplicating questionnaire and diary entries.

The following points relating to the collection of household expenditure data require special emphasis:

(a)  Part exchange and second-hand purchases

All payments made in respect of part exchange and second-hand purchases during the fourteen day period of record-keeping are recorded.  Only net payments are summarised and any amount allowed for goods traded in or exchanged in part exchange are deducted.

(b)  Business expenses

All business expenses are excluded since the survey is concerned only with the expenditure incurred by household members in their private capacity.  Where households received reimbursement of utility costs from employers, the household’s expenditure on these utilities was adjusted to reflect the reimbursement.

(c)  Own garden/farm produce consumed in the home

The quantity and retail value of all home-grown produce consumed (i.e. from the household’s own farm or garden) is recorded on a daily basis.  The combined aggregate value of the weekly equivalent retail value of the produce consumed is included in both direct household income and food expenditure.

(d)  Expenditure abroad

Total expenditure on holidays of at least two nights abroad is based on replies to a special retrospective question relating to holidays during the twelve months preceding the interview; expenditure on shorter foreign holidays, visits and personal expenditure on business trips abroad continues to be made on the basis of the diary records.  In the case of foreign holidays of two nights or more, the expenditure estimates cover all costs incurred (i.e. cost of package holidays, transport, hotels, meals, entertainment, personal expenditure etc.).

Household Income 

Household income includes all money receipts of a recurring nature which accrue to the household regularly at annual or more frequent intervals, together with the value of any free goods and services regularly received by household members (in particular, the benefits-in-kind supplied by employers and listed under ‘Household expenditure’ heading above) and the retail value of own farm or garden produce consumed by the household. The gross receipts, (i.e. before subtraction of income tax and social insurance deductions) of individual household members are converted to weekly equivalent amounts and combined to give the average gross weekly income for the households.

In the 2015-2016 HBS, more than 89% of household respondents aged 16 years and over supplied the CSO with their Personal Public Service Number (PPSN). In these cases Revenue and the Department of Social Protection supplied the CSO with detailed information regarding income data and state transfer payments received by the respondent in the interview year. In cases where PPSNs were not supplied, values relating to income and state transfers were collected directly from the respondents.

The following sources of household income are distinguished in the detailed table of this report:

(i)  Wages and salaries of employees

Each employee is asked to provide particulars of the wage or salary actually received the last time payment was made.  The actual gross amount last received is always used irrespective of whether it happened to be temporarily increased by overtime, bonuses etc. or reduced because of illness, short-time etc.  The gross figure summarised includes income tax, social insurance and all other deductions made at source by the employer.  Additions are made to this gross figure to include the weekly equivalent value of any regular bonuses, commissions etc. received during twelve months preceding the interview.  This heading also includes the gross earnings of any household member accruing from regular subsidiary employment as an employee.  

Persons involved in state training and work experience schemes are generally classified as employees and the payment they receive is coded as a wage since the bulk of these schemes involve working on some project.  Only where the training element predominates are persons classified as unemployed or as a student, depending on their own perception of their situation.

Where employees are away from work without pay on the occasion of the interview, the normal wage or salary is ignored and State, trade union or other benefits being received as an alternative are used in the compilation of household income.

(ii)  Income from self-employment

Household members working on their own account or in partnership in a business other than farming are asked to state their gross income net of depreciation allowances and business expenses.  A zero income is taken when a loss is incurred.  This heading also includes the income of any household member accruing from regular subsidiary own account employment; income from any such occasional work is summarised under other direct income.

Calculations for farming income was based on UAA (Utilised Agriculture Area) = The number of hectares of land owned + number of hectares rented in – the number of hectares let out – number of hectares in bog land – number of hectares in woodland – number of hectares in other areas e.g. lakes.

The Farm Accountancy Data Network (FADN code) for the farm was derived from the detailed questions asked regarding the hectares of farmland under different crop types and activity (i.e. stock on farm). The Irish Agriculture and Food Development Authority Teagasc provided the CSO with Standard Gross Margins (SGM) for various activities and FADN code was derived for each farm based on the activity wielding the appropriate proportion of the total SGM. For example, if the SGM for dairy was over 66% of the total, then the farm was categorized as a specialist dairy farm. 

(iii)  Retirement pensions 

The gross amounts (i.e. before any deductions) being received by household members as pensions in respect of previous employment are summarised under this heading.  Older people pensions and all other social welfare pensions are treated as state transfer payments.

(iv)  Investment income (Foreign and Domestic)              

Investment income is estimated on the basis of the gross interest and dividends (i.e. before deduction of income tax) received or credited to household members during the twelve months preceding the interview from stocks, shares and other investments.  Net receipts after deduction of income tax at source are grossed during processing on the basis of the relevant rate of deposit interest retention tax (41% in 2015/2016).

(v)  Property income

Property income includes the gross rent received by households in respect of subletting part of their accommodation together with the rent or income accruing from other property after the deduction of expenses allowed for income tax purposes.  Rent received by farmers from land let is also summarised under this heading.

No allowance is made in the compilation of either household income or expenditure for the imputed rent which owner occupiers could be considered to forego by not letting their dwellings.  

(vi)  Own garden/farm produce

The average weekly equivalent value at local retail prices of any own farm or garden produce consumed by sample household during the fourteen days of record-keeping is included in household income under this heading and also summarised as household expenditure under the relevant commodities. 

(vii)  Other direct income

This heading covers other miscellaneous income sources such as annuities, trusts and covenants, trade union sick or strike pay, the value of free goods and services regularly received by household members (e.g. free meals, food, fuel or subsidised housing received from employers).  Payments by employers of health insurance, life insurance premiums and leisure club fees for other employees are included as well as the benefit in kind to employees from the use of company cars. 

(viii)  State transfer payments

This heading covers actual cash amounts being received on the occasion of the interview in the form of State benefits, assistance and allowances.  They are classified as follows in the detailed tables of this report: 

(1)    Child benefit

(2)    Older people pensions

(3)    Widows, Widowers & Guardian payments

(4)    Other long term social protection payments

(5)    Jobseekers’ payments (including farm assist) 

(6)    Carers’ payments

(7)    Education grants/scholarships/back to education allowance 

(8)    Other state transfers 

The value of State benefits in kind (e.g. free health services, home assistance etc.) is not included in either household income or expenditure. Farmers in receipt of unemployment assistance are not treated as out of work, they are always classified as being self-employed.

Gross household income is defined as direct income plus state transfer payments. Disposable household income is defined as gross income less income tax and social insurance deductions. 

Gross household income excludes certain receipts which are generally of an irregular and non-recurring nature.  The principal exclusions are receipts for sale of possessions, withdrawals from savings, loans obtained, loan repayments received, windfalls, prizes, retirement gratuities, maturing insurance policies etc.  Furthermore, transfers of money between household members (e.g. pocket money, housekeeping money etc.) are ignored since the household is treated as a single unit.  The sole exception to this rule is the wage given to a resident domestic servant.  This wage is included in household income, but is balanced by the inclusion of the same amount as household expenditure under the heading domestic services (e.g. cleaners, gardeners & au pair).  When a household includes a boarder the payment made for board and lodgings constitutes an internal transfer and is therefore ignored.  Since boarders are treated as household members their personal expenditure and income are, however, included in the details for the household as a whole.

Health conditions and difficulties with certain activities

 Health conditions refer to anything that has affected the respondent in the 6 months prior to interview, or is likely to affect the respondent for at least 6 months thereafter.

 Categories of health conditions

1.  Blindness, or a severe vision impairment

2.  Deafness, or a severe hearing impairment

3.  A condition that substantially limits one or more basic physical activities such as walking, climbing   stairs, reaching, lifting or carrying

4.  A learning or intellectual disability

5.  A psychological or emotional condition

6.  Other, including any chronic illness

Categories of activities

 1.  Learning, remembering or concentrating

 2.  Dressing, bathing or getting around inside the house

 3.  Going outside the home alone to visit the shop or visit a doctor’s surgery

 4.  Working at a job or business or attending school or college

 5.  Participating in other activities, for example leisure or using transport




Urban households are defined as being located in cities and towns, including their suburbs, distinguished for Census of Population purposes.  The boundaries of towns (with population of 1,000 or more) and their classification by population size were based on the 2011 Census of Population.

Rural households are located outside the boundaries of cities and towns (including suburban areas).

Gross household income deciles

The gross household income decile groups are ten equal-sized groups of households, each group containing 10% of households.  The first decile group contains 10% of households with the lowest gross household income; the second decile group contains 10% of households with the next lowest gross household income etc.  The 10th decile group contains 10% of households with the highest gross household income.

The gross weekly household income ranges used to create gross income deciles in the 2015-2016 survey are as follows:

1st Decile:  <=€252.21

2nd Decile: €252.21 - 415.59

3rd Decile: €415.59 - €544.89

4th Decile: €544.89 - €700.70

5th Decile: €700.70 - €870.25

6th Decile: €870.25 - €1,087.04

7th Decile: €1,087.04 - €1,311.45

8th Decile: €1,311.45 - €1,637.71

9th Decile: €1,637.71 - €2,163.71

10th Decile: >€2,163.17


The regional classifications in this release are based on the NUTS (Nomenclature of Territorial Units) classification used by Eurostat. The NUTS3 regions correspond to the eight Regional Authorities established under the Local Government Act, 1991 (Regional Authorities) (Establishment) Order, 1993, which came into operation on 1 January 1994. The NUTS2 regions, which were proposed by Government and agreed by Eurostat in 1999, are groupings of the NUTS3 regions. The composition of the regions is set out below.

Border, Midland and

Western NUTS2 Region


Southern and Eastern 

NUTS2 Region

Border Cavan   Dublin Dublin
  Donegal     Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown
  Leitrim     Fingal
  Louth     South Dublin
  Sligo   Mid-East Kildare
Midlands Laois     Wicklow
  Offaly   Mid-West Clare
  Westmeath     Limerick City
        Limerick County
West Galway City      
  Galway County   South-East Carlow
  Mayo     Kilkenny
  Roscommon     South Tipperary
        Waterford City
        Waterford County
      South-West Cork City
        Cork County

Social Group

Sample households have been classified in this report to the social group of the reference person of the household.  Five Social Groups are distinguished.  These are defined in terms of the following combinations of the eleven Socio-Economic Groups used in the 2011 Census of Population:  

Social Group   Socio-economic Group
1   Higher professional
    Lower professional
    Employers and managers
2   Own account workers
    Non-manual workers
3   Manual skilled workers
4   Semi-skilled manual workers
    Unskilled manual workers
5   Farmers, agricultural workers
    All other gainfully occupied and unknown

Household composition

This is a classification of households based on the number of adults and children in the household. The categories are:

  • 1 adult
  • 2 adults
  • 1 adult with children
  • 2 adults with 1-3 children
  • 3+ adults
  • Other households with children

 Analysis by deprivation/affluence

The Pobal Haase-Pratschke Deprivation Index is used to analyse Irish Health Survey questionnaire responses experienced by households. The Index uses Census data to measure levels of disadvantage or affluence in a particular geographical area. More detailed information on the index can be found here:


Go to next chapter>>>Appendix 2:  Methodology