This publication presents the results of the 2020 Household Finance and Consumption Survey (HFCS), which was carried out between July 2020 and January 2021. Detailed information on household assets and liabilities is collected by the HFCS, as well as data on gross income and credit constraints.The HFCS is collected under the auspices of the European Central Bank (ECB) Household Finance and Consumption Network (HFCN) which designed the survey for use in the Eurozone.
Comparison with previous HFCS publications
- This is the third publication in the HFCS series, which was previously undertaken in 2013 and 2018. Various methodological changes were introduced in 2020, the main one being the supplementing of household survey data with administrative data from the Central Credit Register (CCR). The Central Credit Register (CCR) is a mandatory database of credit information established by the Central Bank, under the Credit Reporting Act 2013 as amended (‘the Act’). Under the Act, lenders are obliged to submit credit information and personal information on loans of €500 or more to the CCR. Access to the CCR has resulted in more reliable estimates, improved data quality, and enables valuable insights regarding household debt. For example, the debt participation rate is approximately 15 percentage points higher when using the CCR compared with the estimated participation rate from survey collected data. Other methodological changes are outlined in the Background Notes. Since the first publication of 2020 estimates, the CCR has been retrospectively added to the 2018 data. As 2018 and 2020 estimates are now produced using the same methodology, comparisons can be made between them. This publication has been updated on 16 May 2023 and now includes references to 2018 estimates. As 2013 estimates were produced using a different methodology, comparisons cannot be made between 2013 and 2018/2020 estimates. This constitutes a break in time series between 2013 and 2018.
Regarding the data in this report, the following in particular should be noted:
- The data was only collected from private households. The results therefore exclude assets and liabilities held by the public sector as well as those directly held by publicly traded companies. Assets and liabilities held abroad by Irish households are included while those held in Ireland by non-domestic households are excluded.
- The data collected was on the basis of self-assessment by the reporting households and was supplemented with other available sources. For example, the data used to derive income from state transfers was taken directly from available administrative records.
- There may be underreporting of the value of some real or financial asset, deliberate or otherwise. Households found it particularly difficult to provide the value of certain assets such as self-employment business wealth. Therefore, the value of such assets is subject to high degrees of estimation.
- A key challenge in all countries that conduct the HFCS is that wealth distribution is highly skewed. A small proportion of households have substantial asset holdings and these households may be insufficiently represented in the survey, either because they are not easily accessible or because they refuse to participate. For this reason, this report focuses mostly on indicators (such as medians) that are not affected by an insufficient coverage of the wealthiest households.