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Introduction and Summary of Results

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This report presents results from the 2015-2016 Household Budget Survey (HBS) which was undertaken between February 2015 and February 2016 inclusive.  The HBS is a survey of a representative random sample of all private households in the State.  HBS surveys have been carried out periodically in Ireland since 1951.

The main purpose of the HBS is to determine in detail the pattern of household expenditure in order to update the weighting basis of the Consumer Price Index.  The maintenance of a detailed diary of household expenditure over a two-week period by the surveyed households is the main distinguishing feature of the HBS.  Detailed information is also collected on all sources of household income and on a range of household facilities.

The reliability of the results depends to a large extent on the accuracy, reliability and completeness of the information provided by the respondents.  Estimates for certain types of expenditure (e.g. alcohol and tobacco) and some categories of income tend to be underestimated in surveys of this nature, thus caution should be exercised in making comparisons between different categories of households.  Notwithstanding these shortcomings, the HBS provides a wealth of valuable information on the income and expenditure of Irish households.

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In the 2015-2016 survey, some 6,839 households participated in the HBS.  This represented a response rate of 40%.  This is lower than other household surveys, reflecting the difficulty in achieving a high response for an intense survey such as the HBS.  As in previous surveys, the results have been re-weighted to reduce the impact of any biases due to differential non-response between different categories of households.

The Central Statistics Office would like to thank a specially recruited team of five temporary full-time field supervisors and 55 temporary part-time interviewers who undertook the field work for the HBS.  It would particularly like to express its gratitude to the participating households for their co-operation in agreeing to take part in the HBS survey and for facilitating the collection of the relevant data.

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The main points of note from this report are outlined below.

 The estimated average weekly expenditure in 2015-2016 for all households in the State was €837.47  This was 3.3% higher than the €810.61 figure recorded five years earlier.  See table 1.1.

The proportion of total household expenditure that related to expenditure on Food dropped from 16.2% in 2009-2010 to 14.7% in 2015-2016, whereas the proportion related to Housing increased from 18.2% to 19.6% over this five year period. This continues a trend since the 1980 HBS.

 Expenditure on Housing increased by 11.3% from €147.73 per week in 2009-2010 to €164.36 in 2015-2016. This was caused by an increase in expenditure on rent, purchases of dwellings and the introduction of Local property tax and Water charges. This was marginally offset by a fall in expenditure on mortgages from €66.31 to €64.85, which was due to a reduction in the number of households owned with a mortgage (34.6% of all households  to 33.1%).

 Expenditure on Transport increased by nearly 7% from €116.31 per week in 2009-2010 to €124.39 in 2015-2016.  This was due to an increase in expenditure on car purchases from €30.25 per week to €44.43 over the time period.  There was a 7.1% decrease in expenditure on Transport when expenditure on car purchases was excluded.

 Expenditure on Alcoholic drink and tobacco decreased by 29.1% (from €39.48 per week to €28.00). This is due to a drop in expenditure on both Tobacco and Drink consumed out. Expenditure on Drink consumed at home has remained relatively consistent since 2009-2010 at €10.56.

 The average gross weekly household income for the State in 2015-2016 was €1,099.70, which was 7.1% higher than the €1,026.77 figure recorded in 2009-2010.  Average weekly household disposable income (which is arrived at after the deduction of income tax and social insurance from gross income) increased by nearly 3% from €885.72 to €911.55 over the period.  See table 2.1.

 In 2015-2016, less than two thirds (65.9%) of households had a fixed telephone compared with just under 86% ten years earlier. Almost 73% of households reported having Internet access, up from nearly 66% in 2009-2010. In 2015-2016, nearly 81% of all households reported having at least one Home computer, compared with 77.3% and 56.2% as recorded in the 2009-2010 and 2004-2005 surveys respectively.  In 2015-2016, more than half (50.9%) of all households indicated having Two or more home computers.   See tables 3.1 and 3.2. 

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