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Households and consumption expenditure by type of household 2006–2012

Every other Finn belongs to a household of either one or two persons

The number of households has increased in forty years by one million, but over the same period, Finland's population has grown by only 950,000 persons. The average size of a household has fallen from 3.35 to 2.06 persons 1) . The growth in the number of households has in part maintained the increase in consumption, as many basic household equipment and goods are necessary for both those living alone and for households of larger families. In the latter, they are used by several people. The diminishing trend of household size thus sets challenges for attaining emission targets, for example.

Table 1. Households by number of members in 2001, 2006 and 2012 (share in percentages)

Size of household Share in percentages Number of households
2001 2006 2012 2012
1 person 37,7 40,1 40,3 1 044 957
2 persons 33,9 32,8 35,0 909 139
3 persons 12,5 12,0 10,5 271 416
4 persons 10,5 9,7 9,4 244 778
5+ persons 5,4 5,4 4,8 124 691
Total 100,0 100,0 100,0 2 594 999

Source: Income distribution statistics (the year 2012 is preliminary)

Household types reveal the household's life cycle

In this review, differences in consumption are examined by following the household's life cycles. In the statistical release, the same matter is viewed according to the socio-economic group of the household's reference person.

In the figures and tables in the review, use is made of the classification according to households' life cycle:

  • Persons aged under 65 living alone

  • Persons aged under 65 living as a couple

  • Single-parent families where children are aged under 25 and dependants

  • Two-parent families where children are aged under 25 and dependants

  • Elderly households of persons aged 65 or over

  • Other households with at least three adults or persons of both working age and pensioners.

Consumption of single-parent families grew clearly

Differences between groups are compared in Figure 1 and Table 2 by means of the consumption unit 2) . It standardises the effect of household size and age structure. Price differences between years have been removed by converting the sums of 2006 into 2012 money with the price index data. In the six year period, the clearest growth in real consumption was seen in single-parent families, up by 21 per cent. Consumption expenditure in the "other households" group also increased considerably, by 13 per cent. The consumption of childless couples did not grow at all, and the real consumption of families with children of two parents remained almost unchanged. According to the income distribution statistics, income of single-parent families calculated per consumption unit increased somewhat more in six years than in other household types, so risen income may have had an effect on larger real growth of consumption expenditure than in other households.

Figure 1. Consumption expenditure by household type in 2006 and 2012 (at 2012 prices, EUR/consumption unit)

Figure 1. Consumption expenditure by household type in 2006 and 2012 (at 2012 prices, EUR/consumption unit)

The everyday life and activity of households in different life cycle stages are different and that is also visible in consumption. Consumption expenditure was highest in households of childless couples, around EUR 28,000 per consumption unit. Annual consumption was second highest in families with children of two parents, about EUR 26,000. Consumption expenses in the "other households" group and one-person households were quite close to one another and the average for all households. The consumption of single-parent families was around EUR 1,000 lower per year than in one-person households per consumption unit. In elderly households, consumption expenditure was clearly lower than in other households.

The number of elderly households grew by over one hundred thousand in six years. Their number in 2012 was almost equal to that of persons aged under 65 living alone. Changes were minor in the numbers of households belonging to other household types.

Table 2. Consumption expenditure by household type and by main category in 2006 and 2012 (at 2012 prices, EUR/consumption unit), part 1

Consumption expenditure All households One-person aged under 65 Couple without children, aged under 65 Single-parent family with children
2006 2012 2006 2012 2006 2012 2006 2012
Total consumption expenditure 23 238 24 046 22 431 24 004 28 630 28 228 19 128 23 090
Food and non-alcoholic beverages 2 988 3 014 2 467 2 521 3 448 3 306 2 838 2 974
Alcoholic beverages and tobacco 635 564 800 736 930 833 524 409
Clothing and footwear 760 737 593 620 1 058 946 687 983
Housing 7 018 7 038 6 992 7 500 7 533 6 803 6 336 6 739
Home furnishings, appliances and materials 1 098 1 098 828 919 1 629 1 534 860 1 097
Health 797 808 602 646 781 771 422 614
Transport 3 400 3 950 3 374 3 578 4 726 5 737 2 054 3 220
Communications 500 592 529 626 548 693 581 718
Culture and recreation 2 177 2 458 2 195 2 721 2 742 2 781 1 750 2 267
Hotels, cafés and restaurants 1 039 1 004 1 399 1 422 1 510 1 407 900 1 044
Other goods, services and training 2 930 2 741 2 788 2 670 3 810 3 353 2 287 2 963
Number of households in the sample 4 007 3 551 588 546 906 714 161 117
Number of households in the population 2 455 000 2 594 999 624 808 658 076 489 483 482 133 104 781 88 642
Average household size 2,11 2,05 1,00 1,00 2,00 2,00 2,61 2,50
Consumption units in household, average (oecdmod) 1,49 1,47 1,00 1,00 1,50 1,50 1,63 1,61

Table 2. Consumption expenditure by household type and by main category in 2006 and 2012 (at 2012 prices, EUR/consumption unit), part 2

Consumption expenditure Two-parent family with children Elderly household Other households
2006 2012 2006       2012       2006 2012
Total consumption expenditure 25 644 26 187 17 950 19 028 22 072 24 980
Food and non-alcoholic beverages 3 341 3 405 2 746 2 863 3 288 3 404
Alcoholic beverages and tobacco 557 459 263 282 623 581
Clothing and footwear 1 179 1 072 355 442 536 603
Housing 6 265 6 409 7 646 7 247 6 521 7 140
Home furnishings, appliances and materials 1 378 1 264 770 785 877 1 204
Health 613 552 1 254 1 221 938 846
Transport 4 298 4 971 1 447 2 102 3 662 4 439
Communications 551 640 350 413 502 627
Culture and recreation 2 581 2 661 1 366 1 736 1 999 2 670
Hotels, cafés and restaurants 1 126 1 074 239 288 668 764
Other goods, services and training 3 743 3 631 1 728 1 633 2 529 2 674
Number of households in the sample 1 090 912 793 833 469 429
Number of households in the population 525 175 510 606 519 072 637 930 191 678 217 609
Average household size 3,92 3,93 1,31 1,38 2,99 2,75
Consumption units in household, average (oecdmod) 2,19 2,20 1,15 1,19 1,95 1,84

   

Change in consumption by main category in 2006 to 2012

Figure 2 presents real changes in consumption expenditure by category. The figure indicates how much expenditure changed in different main categories, when changes in the value of money and structural changes in households are taken into account. Real growth concerns three groups, which are communications, transport, and culture and recreation. The consumption of alcohol and tobacco and various other goods and services went down. In other consumption main categories, real changes in consumption expenditure were minor or non-existent from 2006 to 2012.

Figure 2. Real change in households' consumption expenditure per consumption unit in 2006 to 2012 (%)

Figure 2. Real change in households' consumption expenditure per consumption unit in 2006 to 2012 (%)

Communications expenditure grew in real terms most in households of childless couples and single-parent families. Transport expenditure increased much more than the average in single-parent and elderly households. Culture and recreation expenditure went up clearly in all household types except for families with two adults and families with children of two parents. The amount of money spent on alcohol and tobacco increased only in elderly households.

Changes in consumption structure in 2006 to 2012

Changes in households' consumption expenditure were examined above. The effect of household structure and price changes of commodities were eliminated from the comparison. In real life, households' consumption decisions and purchases are made more or less planned under the conflicting pressures of the household's money situation and its members' present and future wishes, often with the routine dictated by habits and practices. Changes in consumption habits and use of money can be examined by viewing how consumption expenditure is divided as percentages into consumption categories in different household types in 2012 and 2006.

Table 3. Percentage distributions of households' consumption expenditure by consumption main category and household type in 2006 and 2012

Consumption expenditure All households One-person aged under 65 Couple without children, aged under 65 Single-parent family with children Two-parent family with children Elderly household Other households
2006 2012 2006 2012 2006 2012 2006 2012 2006 2012 2006 2012 2006 2012
Food 13 13 11 11 12 12 15 13 13 13 15 15 14 14
Alcoholic beverages and tobacco 2 2 3 3 3 3 2 2 2 2 1 1 2 2
Clothing and footwear 4 3 3 3 4 3 4 4 5 4 2 2 3 3
Housing and energy 27 28 29 31 25 24 31 29 23 24 39 37 27 28
Home furnishings, appliances and materials 5 5 4 4 6 5 5 5 6 5 5 4 4 5
Health 3 3 3 3 3 3 2 3 3 2 7 6 4 3
Transport 16 17 15 15 17 20 11 14 17 19 9 12 18 18
Communications 3 2 3 3 3 2 4 3 3 2 3 2 3 3
Culture and recreation 11 10 11 11 11 10 11 10 12 10 9 9 11 10
Education 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Hotels, cafés and restaurants 4 4 6 6 5 5 4 4 4 4 1 2 3 3
Other goods and services 12 12 11 11 12 12 11 13 13 14 9 9 10 11

On average, the percentage shares of consumption main categories in consumption expenditure have remained unchanged. The shares of housing and transport in consumption expenditure rose by one percentage point from 2006 to 2012. In turn, the shares of clothing, communications and culture and recreation fell by one percentage point. Structural changes in the consumption of different household types are fairly similar to the average for all households. The share of transport expenditure has risen and that of culture and recreation has fallen in most household types. The share of housing expenses in elderly households was in 2012 still clearly higher than in other groups.

The share of food in consumption stayed the same in all household types, except for single-parent families. Previously, the share of food in total consumption has fallen systematically. Over six years, the average rise in food prices was 20 per cent and that in transport fuels 33 per cent. This has, in part, had an effect on their consumption expenditure shares, because the price flexibility of both food and transport expenses is low. The growth in the expense share of housing is explained by the price rise of 20 per cent and partly by growth in living space.

Consumption is defined by owning

The size of consumption expenditure is not solely determined by annual acquisitions of commodities and services, but necessary consumption follows from owning the household's dwelling, transport equipment and free-time residence, which in part dictates on which level expenses are in different sectors of consumption. A car and dwelling and other assets acquired in working age remain mostly on the same level upon retirement. At that time, income usually becomes lower, so the maintenance of the dwelling, car and free-time residence claims a growing share of household disposable income, which reduces other consumption or saving. In Tables 4 and 5, these three structural factors are examined according to the household's life cycle.

Floor area has grown in six years by an average of nine square metres per household member. The number of rooms per person has increased most in elderly and single-parent families and in the "other households" group. The living space of childless couples has not grown at all in six years. Apparently, most households in this group were already living in their desired dwelling in 2006.

All household types had more rooms on average than occupants in 2012, even if the kitchen is not counted as a room. Elderly households have two rooms per occupant. There is less space in two-parent families with children. The growth of living space increases the need for heating energy. The number of light fittings and several entertainment equipment also increases with the number of rooms 3) .

The share of motoring households grew in six years by four percentage points and already one-quarter of all households use at least two cars. The percentage share of households using a car grew particularly much in elderly households where car ownership was in 2012 more common that in one-person households of those aged under 65. Fifty-seven per cent of two-parent families with children had at least two cars. The situation of childless couples remained almost unchanged from 2006 to 2012 with respect to cars as well.

Table 4. Households' housing density by household type in 2006 and 2012

Household type housing density =
rooms (excl. kitchen)/person
m2/person      
2006 2012 2006   2012  
All households 1,7 1,7 42,0 51,0
One-person aged under 65 1,9 1,9 56,0 60,0
Couple without children, aged under 65 1,6 1,5 47,0 46,0
Single-parent family with children 1,3 1,3 34,0 38,0
Two-parent family with children 1,1 1,1 31,0 34,0
Elderly household 2,1 2,1 58,0 64,0
Other households 1,5 1,6 39,0 47,0

Table 5. Percentage shares of households owning a car and a free-time residence by household type in 2006 and 2012

Household type At least one car At least two cars Free-time residence
2006 2012 2006 2012 2006 2012
All households 71 75 23 25 22 26
One-person aged under 65 54 56 4 4 10 14
Couple without children, aged under 65 89 87 32 36 27 28
Single-parent family with children 60 71 5 10 14 11
Two-parent family with children 97 97 52 57 27 27
Elderly household 46 60 3 7 24 35
Other households 89 93 42 44 37 39

The share of households owning a free-time residence alone or together with others grew by four percentage points from 2006 to 2012, when good one-quarter of households owned a free-time residence. Most owners of free-time residences were in the "other households" group, 39 per cent, and least in single-parent families, 11 per cent. In elderly households, the share of free-time residence owners went up by nine percentage points in six years. In households of childless couples and two-parent families with children the share of those owning a free-time residence did not change over the period of 2006 to 2012.


1) The number and average size of households, size of household population and average consumption units in Finland in 1966 to 2011 according to the income distribution statistics. Data for 2012 are preliminary. See http://tilastokeskus.fi/til/tjt/2011/03/tjt_2011_03_2013-04-10_tau_001_fi.html.
2) Consumption units are based on the so-called OECD's modified scale. The first adult in the household is one consumption unit. Other persons in the household aged at least 14 each are 0.5 consumption units and children aged 0 to 13 each are 0.3 consumption units. A household with one adult member is one consumption unit, while a household consisting of spouses and one child aged under 14 together are 1.8 consumption units. Consumption calculated by means of consumption units takes into account the size differences between households and enables their comparison with one another.
3) See Virve Rouhiainen: Kotitalouksien sähkön käyttö 2011 (Households' use of electricity in 2011), http://www.adato.fi/portals/2/attachments/Energiatehokkuus/Kotitalouksien_sahkonkaytto_2011_raportti.pdf

Source: Households’ consumption 2012 . Statistics Finland

Inquiries: Juha Nurmela 09 1734 2548, Tarja Hatakka 09 1734 3553, kulutus.tilastokeskus@stat.fi

Director in charge: Riitta Harala


Updated 15.1.2014

Referencing instructions:

Official Statistics of Finland (OSF): Households' consumption [e-publication].
ISSN=2323-3028. 2012, Households and consumption expenditure by type of household 2006–2012 . Helsinki: Statistics Finland [referred: 29.11.2022].
Access method: http://www.stat.fi/til/ktutk/2012/ktutk_2012_2013-12-30_kat_001_en.html