Concepts and definitions


Persons who live and share meals together or otherwise use their income together belong to the same household. The sizes of households can vary from a one-person household to, for instance, a household with several generations and numerous members. The structure of the household is established during the interview. This way the view of the household members as to who belong to the household can be taken into consideration.

Persons living at a different address most of the time but who use their income together with members of a household can also be considered to belong to the same household. Such persons include, for example:

  • Persons living in another municipality e.g. due to work, if they participate in acquiring income for the household;
  • Persons in military service/community service;
  • Persons in temporary hospital care;
  • For example, students living in a different municipality if they use their income together with the household.

However, there may be persons living in the same apartment that do not belong to the same household. They use their own income and thus form a household of their own. Such persons include, for example:

  • Subtenants, domestic workers and boarders;
  • Foster children when the foster home activities are professional and the foster home arrangement is not intended to be permanent;
  • For example, students living in shared dwellings unless they are married or cohabiting.

Persons living in institutions or in institutional circumstances (e.g. old people living with assistance at home) and other such persons who are not responsible for their own use of money (e.g. persons in trusteeship) do not belong to households as intended in the survey on income and living conditions. The state of health or age of the person selected to the sample is not alone an obstacle to taking part in the survey, as the most important criterion is whether his or her household is responsible for the household's use of money.

Main residence

The survey on income and living conditions asks information about the main residence of the household. The main residence is the one where the majority of the household was living permanently on the last day of the year before the interview. Even if the household had been registered somewhere else at the end of the year, the main residence is regarded as the one where they in fact lived in at the end of the year. Or, for example, if the household happened to be temporarily spending time at the end of the year at a second residence or free-time residence, the information is asked on the main residence. If the household has moved in to the residence at the end of the year and has yet no experience of the expenses of the new residence, it can provide information on the dwelling for which housing costs have last been paid.