Intra-household sharing of resources
From Statistics Explained
Data from November 2012. Most recent data: Further Eurostat information, Main tables and Database.
This article takes a look at the households’ decision-making and intra-household allocation processes. The intra-household allocation processes entail the regime and management of household finances in the European Union (EU). This information is accompanied by specific information on an individual’s contribution to the household budget and the ability of household members to make decisions over the household expenses. The findings of this article are based on data from the EU statistics on income and living conditions (EU-SILC) 2010 module on ‘Intra-household sharing of resources’. Each current household member aged 16 years old and over, living in a household with at least two persons aged 16 years old and over, was asked personal questions. In particular, those household members aged 16 and over living with a partner were asked questions related to their decision-making.
Main statistical findings
Variations in the perception of total household income as common or private resource
In 2010, 70.5 % (see Figure 1) of the Europeans (EU-27) that were living in households with at least two persons aged 16 years old and over, reported to have been treating all household income as common resources in the sense that decisions on what to do with the total incomes are taken commonly and irrespective of who has brought that income in the household. Income covers income from employment and self-employment, property and capital incomes, current transfers received, as well as other income received by any household member or household as a whole. On the other hand, 20.9 % of the European population treated part of the income as common resources and the remainder as private resources, meaning that the person feels that part of the incomes are for him/her to decide what to do with them. A small percentage (8.2 %) treated all incomes as the private resources of the person receiving the income. The feeling of having the choice to decide on what to do with the total household income, irrespective of who earned that income in the household, was predominantly reported by respondents in Malta (85.9 %), followed by Romania, Greece and Hungary (85.0 %, 81.7 % and 80.0 % respectively). At the other extreme, only 50.0 % of the population in Austria, 53.3 % in Cyprus and 54.0 % of the population in Finland expressed that feeling. Looking solely at the percentages of those who treat all household income as the private resources of the person who receives that income, Ireland and Austria reported the highest rates (23.6 and 23.5 % respectively). Switzerland and Norway have also reported high percentages (16.2 % and 15.4 % respectively). At another extreme were Romania, Bulgaria and Cyprus with rates that were below 2 %.
Contribution to the common household budget
Alongside the perception of the total household income as a common or private resource (or a combination of the two), another element of the regime of the household income is the habit of keeping personal income separate from the common household budget. On average (EU-27), 10.3 % (see Figure 2) of the population aged 16 years old and over living in a household with at least two persons aged 16 years old and over, reported that they had been keeping all their personal income separate from the common household budget. This was slightly smaller (8.6 %) in the population that was at-risk-of-poverty. In Ireland, the share of the population that kept its personal income separate from the common household budget was very high (47.7 %) and even higher in the at-risk-of poverty population (52.7 %). Malta also reported relatively high rates (23.2 % and 13.3 % respectively), while in Hungary, Lithuania and France, this habit was not so common (below 5 % in the total population as well as in the population at-risk-of-poverty). Croatia has also reported a very low rates (2.2 % and 2.1 %).
Access to bank account
Four out of five Europeans have access to a bank account (see Figure 3), the share of which drops to approximately two-thirds for those who are at-risk-of poverty. The highest rates have been reported by Denmark and the Netherlands (100 % and 99.2 % respectively), and the lowest by Bulgaria and Romania (24.8 and 32.4 % respectively). The third country after Romania with low rates, was Greece. The proportion of the population having access to a bank account in Greece was 60.7 % in 2010, far higher than that of Romania. Switzerland also declared a low percentage of its population as having access to a bank account (55.6 % for the total population and 48.9 % for the at-risk-of poverty population). The greatest differences between the two populations (the total population and the at-risk-of poverty population) are observed in Italy (27.1 percentage points), the Czech Republic (25.6 pp), Romania (22.6 pp) and Slovakia (20.9 pp). In Romania and Bulgaria, the rates of the at-risk-of poverty population with access to bank account were remarkably low (9.8 % and 11.5 % respectively).
Decision-making in the household
The ability to make decisions about how to use and spend the household budget, as well as other types of decisions taken in a household, varies depending on the type of the decision (see Table 1). Questions on decision-taking were addressed for household members where the partner of the couple (married people and partners in consensual union) also lived in the household. Overall, at the EU-27 level, decision-making was balanced (one or the other partner) between the two partners at a percentage of 44.1 % when regarding decisions on everyday shopping, 72.7 % when regarding decisions on important expenses for the child(ren), 82.1 % when regarding decisions on expensive purchases of consumer durables and furniture, 67.9 % when regarding decisions on borrowing money, 72.4 % when regarding decisions on the use of the savings and 78.7 % when regarding general decisions (monetary decisions but also other important decisions like daily life decisions, getting married, labour market decisions, etc.). With some minor exceptions, this is the picture in almost all the EU Member countries and Iceland, Norway, Switzerland and Croatia. Figure 4 shows the distribution of decision-making in the household at the EU-27 level by sex. Females perceive that decisions about everyday expenses and about important expenses for the child(ren) fall more on them. This was the impression of 52.0 % and 25.5 % of the female population respectively as opposed to 7.5 % and 3.5 % of the population of males. For purchases of durables/furniture, decisions over how to use savings and general decisions both men and women answered that decision taking is balanced. When it comes to borrowing money, males feel that these decisions fall slightly more often on them than females (4.3 % for females and 9.4 % for males).
Decisions about expenses for personal consumption and leisure and for children’s needs
At the EU-27 level, 72.9 % of the population declared to always (or almost always) make their own decisions concerning their own personal consumption, leisure activities and hobbies (Table 2). This percentage was 15.7 pp smaller in the population of those persons that were at-risk-of poverty. Expenses for personal consumption cover clothes, shoes, bags, barber/hairdressers, personal and health care. Expenses for leisure activities and hobbies cover sport and outdoor activities, hobbies and games, audiovisual, newspapers, books, social life and entertainment (e.g. cinema, theatre, eating out). As regards country level this share exceeded 90 % in Finland, Malta, Germany and Austria; Croatia also reported a high percentage (91.0 %). By contrast this share fell below 50 % in Bulgaria and Romania. Overall differences between the total population and those at-risk-of poverty vary between 29.5 pp in the Czech Republic and 3.3 pp in Malta. The difference was also very small in Iceland (2.9 pp). In terms of the ability to decide about purchases for children’ needs, including giving them pocket money, 71.3 % of the population declared that they always feel free (or almost always) to spend money on children living in the household irrespective of whether such expenses are actually necessary or not and irrespective of whether they can afford it or not. This share was 12.9 pp smaller in the population of those persons who were at-risk-of poverty. Those having that ability exceeded 90 % of the total population in Finland and Austria, while Greece, Slovakia and Romania reported rates below 50 % . Differences between the total population and the at-risk-of poverty population were as high as 18 pp or more in Italy and Bulgaria. At the other extreme, in Lithuania and Greece the differences were less than 2 pp.
Data sources and availability
Data in this document were extracted from a special module on ‘Intra-household sharing of resources’ of the EU statistics on income and living conditions (EU-SILC) survey which was carried out in 2010. All data are available as Excel files downloadable from the Eurostat website
The objective of 2010 module on ‘Intra-household sharing of resources’ is to provide deeper insights into the decision-making process and the allocation of resources within the household, a topic of highest relevance when studying the poverty risk of individuals. The module can also serve to enrich the information provided by the poverty risk indicators by providing some information on whether individuals in households can be assumed to have more or less the same standard of living or not and give some information on how transfers are best targeted to reach the most needy.
Further Eurostat information
- Combating poverty and social exlusion. A statistical portrait of the European Union 2010
- Income and living conditions in Europe (2010)
- The Social Situation in the European Union 2009
- Ad-hoc modules (Assessment and Data - Excel)
- 2010 module: Intra-household sharing of resources