Household Budget Surveys (HBSs) are national surveys mainly focusing on consumption expenditure. They are conducted in all EU Member States and their primary aim (especially at national level) is to calculate weights for the Consumer Price Index. They were launched in most EU Member States at the beginning of the 1960's and Eurostat has been collating and publishing these survey data every five years since 1988. The two last collection rounds were 1999 and 2005. Although there have been continuous efforts towards harmonisation, differences remain. The surveys vary between countries in terms of frequency, timing, content or structure. Currently data are collected for all 27 EU Member States as well as for Croatia, the Former Yugoslav of Republic of Macedonia, Turkey, Norway and Switzerland.
Eurostat issues regularly recommendations for further harmonisation of the survey information and also produces a methodological document describing in detail and in a comparative way, all the methodological and technical aspects of the national surveys as well as a consolidated EU quality report.
For the three sources on 'Living conditions and social protection' statistics, data is collected by Eurostat either in the form of micro-data files (both cross-sectional and longitudinal files for EU-SILC, cross-sectional files only for HBS for most of the countries) or in the form of aggregated information (both quantitative and qualitative) for ESSPROS.
A set of tables is available for 'Living conditions and social protection' statistics. These free of charge tables can be found as part of the key indicators on EU policy (long-term indicators - population and social conditions - living conditions and welfare) on the Eurostat website.
On the Eurostat website there are also multidimensional tables available free of charge and they can be viewed via the data navigation tree. They can be found under the theme 'Population and social conditions - living conditions and welfare '. Data and information on all ESSPROS modules are also disseminated on a CIRCA Web.
In addition, the EU-SILC anonymised micro-data files are released to the research community
The Household Budget Survey (HBS) describes the expenditure structure of different types of households. This information is mainly used at EU level in the context of Consumer Protection Policy. In fact, the information gathered from the HBS, together with a contribution regarding prices (Harmonised Indices of Consumer prices), are used to develop a Consumer Markets Scoreboard. It investigates how markets in various sectors of the economy perform from a consumers’ perspective. Five key indicators are taken into account, mainly:
* Prices * Complaints * Switching rates * Satisfaction * Safety
For patterns which could indicate whether the consumer is loosing out in any market. This may trigger a more focused and in depth analysis, possibly leading to corrective actions. The far reaching new process also benchmarks the strength of the consumer environment in different Member States and the degree of integration of the retail internal market.
The first screening results underscore the lack of comprehensive, EU wide comparable consumer data on key areas. In view of this collection and collation of this data is one of the priorities for consumer policy.
The HBS project is run under a Gentlemen's agreement. This agreement was reached in the Statistical Programme Committee during its meeting of 1989.