Households' consumption: documentation of statistics
Basic data of the statistics
The statistics on households' consumption produce data on the structure of households' consumption, changes in consumption expenditure and differences in consumption by population group. The data collection of the statistics is called the Household Budget Survey. Data collections covering the whole population have been conducted at regular intervals since 1966, roughly every five years. The latest is from 2022.
The population of the statistics on households' consumption consists of households permanently resident in Finland and their members. Excluded from the statistics are Finnish citizens resident abroad and the institutional population, which includes long-term residents of hospitals, old people's homes, care institutions, prisons, etc.
The basic unit of the statistics on households' consumption, on which data are produced, is a household. It consists of persons who live together and who have, in whole or in part, a shared food economy or otherwise use their income together. Consumption data are collected and analysed mainly by household, even though data by household member are also collected.
Unit of measure
The published data of the statistics on households' consumption use consumption expenditure in euros, on average, per household or per consumption unit as the unit of measurement.
The reference period of the statistics on households’ consumption is the calendar year. In the data collection, the reference periods are two weeks, one month, three months or one year. The consumption data inquired for a period of under 12 months are scaled to the annual level in the final data. When planning the data collection, attention is paid, for example, to the frequency of goods and services acquisition and the price of them. These influence how the data are collected and what kind of reference period is used in the question.
The statistics on households' consumption cover the consumption expenditure of the household population permanently resident in Finland.
The data of the statistics are published on the level of the whole country and by major region (NUTS2).
The statistics on households' consumption cover the consumption expenditure of private households permanently resident in Finland.
The representative population sample of the statistics on households' consumption describe the economic well-being of households and persons as a whole more extensively than any other statistical data. In addition to the demographic and regional data on households, the statistics also contain data on households':
– consumption expenditure
– disposable income
– interests on housing loans and other loans – housing conditions
The statistics on households' consumption, or the Household Budget Survey, are one of the oldest sample surveys in Finland, their history reaches back to the years 1908 to 1909. Household Budget Surveys covering all households in Finland have been conducted approximately every five years since 1966. Starting from 1966, data are available in electronic format.
Two time series have been produced based on the data, of which the older one contains comparable data for the years 1966, 1971, 1976, 1981, 1985 and 1990. The newer time series contains data for the years 1985, 1990, 1995, 1998, 2001, 2006, 2012 and 2016.
The Household Budget Survey 2022 starts a new time series with the new COICOP2018 classification.
Frequency of dissemination
The statistics on households' consumption are produced at intervals of five years, on average. The results of the statistics are released as preliminary data approximately 12 months after the statistical reference year and as final data at a lag of approximately 15 months. In addition, several releases by theme are made from the statistics for each survey round.
- the first adult of the household receives the weight 1
- other over 13-year-olds receive the weight 0.5
- children receive the weight 0.3 (0 to 13-year-olds).
The selected consumption unit scale has a significant effect on income levels and on placement of different population groups in the income distribution.
The formation of disposable income can be described as follows:
+ Wages and salaries
+ Entrepreneurial income
+ Property income (incl. imputed rent from owner-occupied dwellings and sales profits)
= Factor income
+ Current transfers received (incl. imputed rent from a rental dwelling from another household)
= Gross income
– Current transfers paid
= Disposable income
When social current transfers in kind are added to income, adjusted disposable income is obtained. This concept is not formed in the income distribution statistics.
The imputed rent of owner-occupiers was regarded as factor income (property income) and imputed rent for a dwelling rented from another household as current transfers received in the income distribution statistics. Imputed rent is still formed in the income distribution statistics but from the statistical reference year 2011, it is treated as a separate income item (see "Imputed rent"). Similarly, taxable realised capital gains or sales profits are treated as a memorandum item according to international recommendations.
Wages and salaries include income paid for households as pay - either in money or benefit in kind. Income from incentive stock options is included in the income concept in benefits in kind and thus in wages and salaries.
Entrepreneurial income includes income from agriculture and forestry, business activity and business group and copyright fees. Entrepreneurial income in agriculture also contains various subsidies and compensations such as agricultural subsidies, European Union agricultural aid and compensation for harvest losses.
Property income is rental, interest and dividend income received by households, imputed net rent from an owner-occupied dwelling, taxable capital gain and pensions based on private insurance and other income.
Current transfers received comprise earnings-related pensions and national pensions and other social security benefits, social assistance and other current transfers received.
Current transfers paid comprise direct taxes and social security contributions. In addition, current transfers paid comprise compulsory pension and unemployment insurance premiums and in the income distribution statistics also child maintenance support paid.
The key income distribution statistics concept, disposable income, is arrived at when current transfers paid are deducted from gross income. The concept of disposable income in the Household Budget Survey is based on register data, and does not, differing from the income distribution statistics, include wages and salaries subject withholding tax and tax-free interest income and current transfers between several households (e.g. child maintenance support).
Households' final consumption expenditure is formed as follows:
+ purchases of consumption goods and services
+ own products (agricultural, gardening and collected products)
+ imputed dwelling income from an owner-occupied dwelling and a dwelling provided as a benefit in kind
+ goods and services received
+ current transfers comparable to consumption (e.g., church tax and labour union membership fees and interest on consumption loans)
= total consumption expenditure
Starting from the statistical reference year 2022, goods and services received and current transfers comparable with consumption are not included in final consumption expenditure.
(Classification of Socio-economic Groups 1989. Helsinki. (Statistics Finland, Handbooks, 17).
Excluded from the household population are those living permanently abroad and the institutional population (such as long-term residents of old-age homes, care institutions, prisons or hospitals).
The corresponding register-based information is household-dwelling unit. A household-dwelling unit is formed of persons living permanently in the same dwelling or address. More than one household may belong to the same household-dwelling unit. The concept of household-dwelling unit is used in register-based statistics in place of the household concept.
A considerable part of household-specific classifying data is formed on the basis of the reference person's data.
In addition to gross rent, housing expenditure includes water charges and some other payments such as chimney-sweeping and refuse collection, maintenance repairs made by the tenant and heating costs not included in the rent. Expenditure of free-time residences is also included in housing expenditure.
The socio-economic group of the household is determined by the household's reference person.
The classification is based on the Statistics Finland's classification standard of socio-economic groups from 1989. There account is taken of the person's occupation, status in occupation, nature of work and stage in life (Classification of Socio-economic Group 1989. Helsinki. Statistics Finland, Handbooks, 17).
Accuracy, reliability and timeliness
The statistics on households' consumption are produced at intervals of five years, on average. The results of the statistics are released as preliminary data approximately 12 months after the statistical reference year and as final data at a lag of approximately 15 months.
Time series corrections caused by methodological changes etc. are made when necessary.
As a rule, there has been no delay between the release calendar and the actual release date in the statistics on households' consumption. In individual cases, the release has had to be postponed.
Comparability - over time
Two national time series have been produced based on the data of the statistics on households’ consumption, i.e. the data of the Household Budget Survey, of which the older one contains comparable data for the years 1966, 1971, 1976, 1981, 1985 and 1990. The newer time series contains comparable data for the years 1985, 1990, 1995, 1998, 2001, 2006, 2012 and 2016.
The Household Budget Survey 2022 starts a new time series with the new COICOP2018 classification.
Coherence - internal
The data of the statistics are internally coherent. There are no differences in definitions or examination periods within the same set of statistics.
Source data and data collections
The data for the statistics on households' consumption 2022 were collected with telephone interviews and self-filled web questionnaires. In addition, data was obtained from purchase receipts collected by the household and from purchase entries made in the consumption diary. A Household Budget Survey mobile application was also offered to respondents for scanning purchase receipts and recording consumption data. Data were also retrieved from administrative registers.
In the contact interview, the structure of the household according to register data is checked and data are collected on the household members (occupations, activity on the labour market, etc.) and the respondent is directed either to continue the interview by telephone or to independently fill in the web questionnaire with the same content. In the interview and web questionnaire, data are inquired on households' expenditure, such as housing, insurance and large purchases, and owning durable consumer goods.
Statistics Finland’s own interviewers carry out the interviews. After the interviews, the households collected receipts concerning all their expenses during two weeks or recorded the purchases either in the Household Budget Survey mobile application or in the paper consumption diary. The sample households of the survey were randomly divided into 26 receipt collection periods of 14 days throughout the survey year. Thus, as comprehensive and reliable data as possible are obtained on the consumption in different seasons. If the respondent had selected the mobile application for the receipt collection period, the receipts were photographed with it or purchases without receipts were recorded in the application diary. The receipt photographs were transmitted from the application to Statistics Finland where they were read with OCR software and classified with the help of a classification algorithm. The physical receipts were returned either to the statistical interviewer with whom an agreement had been made about the collection of receipts or directly to Statistics Finland. The receipts were scanned and converted to electronic format at Statistics Finland. Administrative registers were utilised in collecting background data. For example, data on the income and education of household members and on the use of public services were obtained from them.
Frequency of data collection
The data collection for the statistics on households' consumption is conducted roughly every five years. The latest is from 2022.
The Statistics Act (280/2004) obliges Statistics Finland to treat the data as confidential. Respondent households cannot be identified from the published survey results and tables. Statistics Finland's trained interviewers and other employees are bound by an obligation to observe secrecy decreed in law. The survey data based on interviews and receipt and expenditure information for two weeks are supplemented with data from administrative materials available to Statistics Finland. Statistics Finland can release data only for scientific research and statistical surveys. Other data can later be combined to the released data. Releasing is always done so that direct identification of the survey participants is impossible.
Principles and outlines
Contact organisation unit
Legal acts and other agreements
The compilation of statistics is guided by the Statistics Act. The Statistics Act contains provisions on collection of data, processing of data and the obligation to provide data. Besides the Statistics Act, the Data Protection Act and the Act on the Openness of Government Activities are applied to processing of data when producing statistics.
Statistics Finland compiles statistics in line with the EU’s regulations applicable to statistics, which steer the statistical agencies of all EU Member States.
Further information: Statistical legislation
Confidentiality - policy
The data protection of data collected for statistical purposes is guaranteed in accordance with the requirements of the Statistics Act (280/2004), the Act on the Openness of Government Activities (621/1999), the EU's General Data Protection Regulation (EU) 2016/679 and the Data Protection Act (1050/2018). The data materials are protected at all stages of processing with the necessary physical and technical solutions. Statistics Finland has compiled detailed directions and instructions for confidential processing of the data. Employees have access only to the data essential for their duties. The premises where unit-level data are processed are not accessible to outsiders. Members of the personnel have signed a pledge of secrecy upon entering the service. Violation of data protection is punishable.
Further information: Data protection | Statistics Finland (stat.fi)
Confidentiality - data treatment
Statistics Finland's general guidelines are applied in the publication of tabulated statistical data of the statistics on households' consumption.
An individual household cannot under any circumstances be identified from the published data.
Release of data for research use is done centrally by Statistics Finland's research services. The survey data of the Household Budget Survey are mainly household-specific and households are identified with consecutive numbers. Some of the classification data of the household are person-based. The data do not contain identification data. In addition, before granting a licence to use the data and releasing the data for research use, the data protection of the data is assessed in accordance with the normal practice of the research services and the data are made less detailed if necessary.
Unit-level data are released to Eurostat. The released data do not contain identification data.
Statistics Finland publishes new statistical data at 8 am on weekdays in its web service. The release times of statistics are given in advance in the release calendar available in the web service. The data are public after they have been updated in the web service.
Further information: Publication principles for statistics at Statistics Finland
The data of the statistics on households' consumption are submitted to the Consumer Price Index, the international price comparison and national accounts. In addition, the data of the statistics are submitted to Eurostat and Eurostat publishes the data on its web pages.
Eurostat, the Statistical Office of the European Union, is responsible for compiling statistics on the HBS and for the release of its statistical data for research use. Research use requires an application for licence to use statistical data.
The data of the statistics are also published as articles and blogs in Statistics Finland's Tieto & Trendit periodical and in social media.
Accessibility and clarity
Statistical data are published as database tables in the StatFin database. The database is the primary publishing site of data, and new data are updated first there. When releasing statistical data, existing database tables can be updated with new data or completely new database tables can be published.
In addition to statistical data published in the StatFin database, a release on the key data is usually published in the web service. If the release contains data concerning several reference periods (e.g. monthly and annual data), a review bringing together these data is published in the web service. Database tables updated at the time of publication are listed both in the release and in the review. In some cases, statistical data can also be published as mere database releases in the StatFin database. No release or review is published in connection with these database releases.
Releases and database tables are published in three languages, in Finnish, Swedish and English. The language versions of releases may have more limited content than in Finnish.
Information about changes in the publication schedules of releases and database tables and about corrections are given as change releases in the web service.
Data revision - policy
Revisions – i.e. improvements in the accuracy of statistical data already published – are a normal feature of statistical production and result in improved quality of statistics. The principle is that statistical data are based on the best available data and information concerning the statistical phenomenon. On the other hand, the revisions are communicated as transparently as possible in advance. Advance communication ensures that the users can prepare for the data revisions.
The reason why data in statistical releases become revised is often caused by the data becoming supplemented. Then the new, revised statistical figure is based on a wider information basis and describes the phenomenon more accurately than before.
Revisions of statistical data may also be caused by the calculation method used, such as annual benchmarking or updating of weight structures. Changes of base years and used classifications may also cause revisions to data.
National accounts produce macro level data on the consumption expenditure of the household sector at the level of the whole national economy annually. The data of the Household Budget Survey are used in the level revisions of household sector consumption. The main source for the structure of the commodity basket of the Consumer Price Index is national accounts data on private consumption, which are supplemented with more detailed data from the Household Budget Survey.
The Household Budget Survey describes households' resources of economic well-being, which is why it is close in terms of content to the income distribution and wealth surveys. Households' consumption also includes activities which link the Household Budget Survey to time use, cultural and leisure surveys, as well as surveys and statistics describing the environment and the mass media.
Universities and research institutions use the data of the Household Budget Survey when studying, for example, the distribution of well-being by population group or region, poverty and social exclusion or social problems. The data are also used in the so-called lifestyle survey and econometric surveys. Consumption data are also linked to the microsimulation model (SISU). In addition, Statistics Finland makes data analyses and printouts as information service, based on the needs of the users.
Users' views and opinions are not collected regularly. Based on the number of parties ordering chargeable data, the content is perceived to be relevant. In connection with changes concerning the statistics, an expert group has been heard.
Official Statistics of Finland (OSF) are a comprehensive collection of statistics describing the development and state of society. They comprise nearly 300 sets of statistics on 26 different topics. The producers of Official Statistics of Finland have approved a common quality assurance in which they commit to common quality criteria and quality assurance measures. The quality criteria of Official Statistics of Finland are compatible with the European Statistics Code of Practice. The good practices followed in the statistics are presented in Statistics Finland's Quality Guidelines for Official Statistics handbook.
Quality management requires comprehensive guidance of activities. The quality management framework of the field of statistics is the European Statistics Code of Practice (CoP). The quality criteria of Official Statistics of Finland are compatible with the European Statistics Code of Practice.
Further information: Quality management | Statistics Finland (stat.fi)
Data are released to all users at the same time. Statistical data may only be handled at Statistics Finland and information on them may be given before release only by persons involved in the production of the statistics concerned or who need the data of the statistics concerned in their own work before the data are published. Further information: Publication principles for statistics
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