Household budget survey (HBS)

One third of our expenditure goes to housing 2016

One third of our expenditure goes to housing  2016

In 2016, the average household expenditure in Belgium amounted to 34,167 euros. Most of it (36.3 %) was spent on housing. Households have spent 15.3 % of their budget on food, drinks and tobacco. Transport and communication are also an important expenditure (14.8 %), followed by personal care and services (10.1 %), recreation and culture (7.5 %), accommodation and food services (6.4 %), health (4.6 %) and clothing and footwear (4.3 %).
82 out of 100 households had a car in Belgium, but only 53 out of 100 in Brussels.

These data come from the results of the Household Budget Survey, which takes place every two years. This survey is also used to calculate the consumer price indices, to update the index basket and to estimate the households' final consumption expenditure in the national accounts.

Purpose and brief description

EU-HBS (European Union – Household Budget Survey) is a survey on income and expenditure. It is an important tool to describe the consumption habits of the population in a year's time, both at Belgian and European level.

The purpose of the survey is to create a general framework for the production of "community" statistical information at national and European level on the consumption of households, based on cross-sectional data (amount, composition, etc.) on the items of their budgets.

The survey is also the main source to compile the consumer price index product basket. The choice of representative items and their weights in the basket are deeply reviewed every two years based on the most recent HBS. The next review will take place in January 2018 (base year 2013 = 100) based on the HBS 2016. For the years where there is no new HBS, the weights are adjusted via a price-update and new representative items can be added via a redistribution of the weights of the higher group level.


All private households living in Belgium.

Data collection method and sample size

Households participating to the survey have to fill in the following documents with the help of the interviewer: a questionnaire and an expenditure logbook in which they write all their expenditure during one month. Until 2010, a little more than 300 households were interviewed each month. In one year's time, a sample of around 3,700 households was obtained.

From 2012 onwards, the survey is conducted biennially instead of annually, but with a larger sample (5,000 participating households per year). Moreover, instead of using a separate sample, the sample is integrated into the labour force survey (LFS). Many items were removed from the questionnaire, which reduces the burden on participating households. Moreover, the survey has modernised by having surveyors work on tablet PCs. Households can also record their expenditure in an online application instead of on paper.

Households duly participating in the survey (i. e. completing all documents correctly) receive financial compensation.


2016: 9% of the households contacted via LFS.


Annual (from 1999 to 2010).

Biennial (from 2012)

Timing of publication

Results available from 6 months to 1 year after the reference period (from 2012 onwards)


A household consists either of a single person, usually living alone, or of two or more persons who, whether or not related to one another by kinship, usually live in one and the same dwelling and live there together.

The adjusted consumption unit is an equivalence scale used to adjust consumption expenditure to household size and composition. A coefficient of 1 is allocated to the first adult, a coefficient of 0.5 to the other persons older than13, and a coefficient of 0.3 to children younger than 13 (adjusted OECD scale).


Warning: The nominal values of HBS 2016 are not comparable with those of previous years because the extrapolation method has been improved. However, this new method hardly influences the breakdown of expenditure.