The Household Finance and Consumption Network (HFCN), which was established in December 2006, consists of survey specialists, statisticians and economists from the ECB, the national central banks of the Eurosystem and a number of national statistical institutes. The HFCN conducts the Eurosystem’s Household Finance and Consumption Survey (HFCS), which collects household-level data on households’ finances and consumption. The dataset for the first wave of the survey was released in April 2013.
The HFCN has been tasked by the Governing Council of the ECB with:
The HFCN is chaired by Ioannis Ganoulis and Michael Ehrmann (both ECB). Its secretaries are Carlos Sánchez Muñoz and Jiri Slacalek (both ECB).
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The first wave of the HFCS dataset was released to researchers for research purposes in April 2013. You can apply for access to these data by filling in the form and sending it to: email@example.com.
The HFCS collects household-level data on households’ finances and consumption. The fieldwork for the first survey took place in late 2010/early 2011 in most countries. Anonymised microdata from the first wave were made available to the researchers in April 2013.
The HFCS is conducted at the national level. In view of the considerable cultural and institutional differences between euro area countries, there needs to be some flexibility in the formulation of the questions for the individual countries in order to obtain comparable data. The participating institutions produce harmonised output (i.e. survey data) for their respective country, but do not necessarily use identical questionnaires. However, a common template questionnaire serves as a benchmark for the country questionnaires, as well as for establishing the output desired.
The participating institutions report a set of commonly agreed output variables for their respective country. "Core" output variables are to be delivered for all participating countries. A set of non-core variables has also been defined, with the participating institutions being free to decide which of these non-core variables they collect and report for their respective country. The collection of standardised variables will ensure cross-country comparability.
The HFCS questionnaire consists of two main parts:
In addition, there are standardised questions to determine the respondent who should answer the questions on the household as a whole (the "financially knowledgeable person"), as well as questions to be answered by the interviewer relating to the appearance and location of the house/flat and the interviewees’ behaviour during the interview. These provided "paradata", which were particularly useful when editing and imputing data after the fieldwork was completed.
Stylised facts about household assets, liabilities, wealth, income and indicators of consumption are available in the HFCS Report on the Results from the First Wave . The HFCS Methodological Report of the First Wave provides complementary information about the main methodological features of the survey. A set of statistical tables with key indicators is also available online.
The main aim of the HFCS is to gather micro-level structural information on euro area households’ assets and liabilities. The survey also collects other information in order to analyse the economic decisions taken by households.
Survey data are key to:
Gathering information on the behaviour of sub-populations of households is essential. For instance, the financial crisis has demonstrated that a relatively small percentage of households – those who are highly indebted – can have a major impact on market outcomes. Another example of an influential sub-group is the top wealthiest households. Though small in number, these have a highly disproportionate effect on aggregate statistics.
More specifically, the following questions in the field of household finance may be of particular interest to researchers and policy-makers.