L'économie française - Comptes et dossiers - Édition 2009
Inequalities between households in the national accounts Breakdown of household accounts
The household accounts published by the national statistical office present as exhaustive a picture as possible of the income, consumption and savings of all households, but without providing information on disparities between them. Household surveys collect microeconomic information which can be used to study inequalities at individual level. These two approaches have been combined to give a breakdown for 2003 of disposable income and consumption expenditure measured in the national accounts according to standard of living (defined as income level per consumption unit), age, socio-professional category of the head of the household and household composition. When completed, these studies will form the basis for measuring the evolution in purchasing power of each of these categories and hence the evolution in inequalities between households in the national accounts. The disposable income of the wealthiest 20% of households was shown to be five times greater than that of the poorest 20%. In the case of the latter, more than half of their income consisted of social benefits and they spent one third on expenses described as “precommitted”, expenses which are difficult to negotiate in the short term (rents and housing charges, telephone services, insurance). Representing on average almost a quarter of the consumption budget, housing is the primary item of expenditure for all households, whatever their standard of living; the proportion of this expense increases with age. Households of working people and retired households of the same social category have fairly similar standard of living, but the oldest people consume less, as to some extent they retain the consumption habits they had in their youth. The savings ratio, which is the fraction of disposable income which is not consumed, increases with standard of living and with age. It is particularly high for the self-employed, whose savings may also be directed towards maintaining and improving the tools of their trade.