The balance of opinion is defined as the difference between the proportion of respondents having expressed a positive opinion and the proportion of respondents having expressed a negative opinion.
More often than not, the questions in economic outlook surveys call for a response chosen from three possibilities: "up", "stable" or "down".
From these responses, the percentage of respondents (households or entrepreneurs) saying "up" (positive responses), "stable" or "down" (negative responses) is calculated for each question, taking account, in the case of enterprises, of the relative size of the enterprise and of the sub-sector concerned. A balance of opinion is then established for each question as being the difference between the percentage of respondents giving a positive response and the percentage of respondents with a negative response.
In economic outlook surveys on industrialists, for example, the balance of opinion on past sales or on business prospects is calculated. In the surveys on households, a balance of opinion on unemployment in France or on the current financial situation of households is calculated.