The Household Sector in Aggregate

Over the past couple of weeks the CSO have released some useful survey data on the household sector (see the Household Budget Survey and the Survey of Income and Living Conditions). 

Today the CSO have released the Q4 2011 Non-Financial Accounts which gives a macro view of the sectors of the economy.

The 2011 figures remain preliminary (and won’t be finalised until the full release in October) but the current and capital accounts of the household sector for the past five years are presented below the fold. 

Space limits the display to five years but a table with all the data going back to 2002 can be viewed here.

The changes in the household sector are pretty evident.  Self-employee earnings and employee wages fell substantially in 2009 but the aggregates have been stable in nominal terms since then.  The preliminary figures show that there was a small increase in employee wages in 2011. 

Accounting for changes in property income (mainly interest but also distributed income from corporations) means that Gross National Income for the household sector rose by 0.75% in 2011.  However, as a result of increases in taxes, Gross Disposable Income for the household sector fell for the fourth straight year with a drop of 0.4%.

Consumption fell by more than disposable income and in 2011 household consumption fell by a further 1.2% in nominal terms.  This means that Gross Savings rose to 14.5% of Gross Disposable Income in 2011, though the ratio was slightly higher in 2009.

The stand-out feature of the capital account is the collapse in gross capital formation.  Investment from the household sector, the acquisition of non-financial assets, is down more than 80% from its peak in 2006 and, in the main, this was the purchase of new houses.   Depreciation has also fallen as the value of housing assets is lower.

The household sector has swung from being in a net borrowing position to being a net lender, but as has been pointed out many times, a lot of this money is going to pay down the debt built up previously rather than accumulating deposits.

Dan O’Brien had an article on the financial balance sheet of the household sector in Friday’s Irish Times which complements the non-financial accounts given above.

11 replies on “The Household Sector in Aggregate”

The consumption of Y2011 (78,348) bought a lot less goods then Y2005 (75,579) I imagine.

The rise & fall in fixed capital formation in Ireland will occupy a entire chapter in future economic textbooks.

The money supply must grow before the economy grows , these means the true input costs of suburbanisation must be factored into the equation.

This ship of state cannot carry 1.8 million cars in its hold.

I’m interested in how representative these surveys are. This one seems pretty good – almost 6,000 households, a 40% response rate. Is this considered representative?

I ask as the headlines have gone with the ICLU survey today – and have been bugging me all day.

“Up to 47% of adults have less than €100 a month after bills” (IT)
“Half a million people left with no money after paying bills” (Indo)
while RTE dispenses with the IT’s “up to” and goes straight in with
“47% of households left with €100 at end of month after paying essential bills”

All of which are completely misleading. Only 1000 were surveyed and I’ll put a call in tomorrow to check how these 1000 selected. If they were CU customers, the profile is narrowed. I don’t know why the papers/rte go along with the alarmist and misleading headlines. *

*To quote Stephen. This is a lie.

Now now Sarah – not all statistics are ‘lies’ ‘lies’ and ‘damn lies’

A little tutorial for you – in deference to your fragile bourgeois sensibilities Mr Khan (no relation to Genghis) has placed the general population in bright Fine Gael Rich Blue – and the CU types in common or garden lower class green.–sample-vs–population-mean

Yes, those pesky peasants, property less labourers, and underclass types do seem to cause you such ‘alarm’ at times. Let us know how you get on with Mr Khan.

Gawd – now the IT is editorialising on the “half” statistic. This is beyond stupid.

They’re loving too “one fifth of children go to bed hungry”.

But they asked children, who are notoriously unreliable witnesses. My second boy does a great plaintiff cry whining he’s H-U-N-G-E-R-EEEEEEE. But that’s because he wouldn’t eat his dinner. I know how he’d answer the question.

Now now Sarah ….

Just trying to be helpful .. no need to add to the mounting empirical evidence that The Fine Gael gene pool is somewhat mathematically and statistically challenged. Big Phil might be watching you …

@ SC:

Its known as ‘burying the bad news’. Anything to divert attention. The Water Meter cost might, just might, be the catalyst to awaken the semi- anesthesized Irish citizen. Kinda difficult if you have been force-fed a constant diet of a well homogenized PR pap of truths, part truths, rumour, untruths and outright lies. Liberty Valence syndrome. Print the legend, not the truth.

Fianna Fáil are might quite about this. So is our Nationalist Socialist party. Wonder why?

@DO’D: Yep. Estimates do not ‘lie’ – its the tyranny of the Meaningless Mean – and of course the lying SoBs who deploy meaningless estimates for personal reasons. Funny that basic Descriptive Statistics is not understood by lots of folk. The theory side is rather simple, and the rest is just sums.


No doubt the CU numbers are far from representative but this survey I believe is their 4th such survey and unfortunately the results for each have been trending the same way. So whilst there may indeed be some mileage in tut tuting the statistical methodology the trends from this and related surveys (mortgage distress numbers, ESB and Bord Gais disconections, SILC etc) are ALL trending the wrong way. Unless there’s are very sophisticated method adopted by all those who prepare such reports to deliberately talk up the scale of the problems , which I very much doubt, I’d safely suggest the country is really knackered and debt restructuring seems to me to be a logical way to get out of the morass.

@Brian Woods Snr.

Yes – ‘the tyranny of the Meaningless Mean’ does me own poor head in at times.

@Yields or Bust

There is a lot of ‘desperation’ now evident in the lower deciles …. and in a segment of the middle ones. As you correctly note – the trend is one way …..


Point taken on trend but headlines claim numerical fact as opposed to speculation based on small sample.


That video is cute! Perhaps I’ll turn off the hospital dramas and brush up. I did enjoy maths in school but would have loved if arts students could take a statistics option. It would produce better qualified journos.


I agree CSO does release “some useful survey data” but I was shocked to read a claim on another thread (I believe they are advertising for a new boss) that the CSO apparently has 700 employees.

I will repeat that again as I initially believed I was misreading the claim :

700 employees!

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