Household budget survey (HBS)

Housing is taking an ever-increasing share of the household budget

Housing is taking an ever-increasing share of the household budget

Average expenditure of Belgian households in 2018

In 2018, Belgian households spent on average 35,764 euros, Flemish households 36,895 euros, Walloon households 34,589 euros and households in Brussels 33,356 euros, according to the new figures of Statbel, the Belgian statistical office.

The largest part of Belgian household expenditure (35.6 %) is spent on housing, with 30.3 % or 10,837 euros per year being spent on the dwelling itself: rent, water, energy, maintenance and other costs. The remaining 5.3 %, or 1,878 euros per year, are spent on the purchase of furniture, domestic appliances and maintenance products, tools for home and garden, etc. Other significant expenditure items are food, beverages and tobacco(16 % or 5,744 euros) and transport (11.4 % or 4,065 euros).

These data are derived from the results of the household budget survey organised in 2018 by Statbel, the Belgian statistical office, among more than 6,000 households. This survey is used among other things as an input for updating the index basket and for estimating household consumption expenditure in the national accounts.




Average expenditure for all households as a percentage of total expenditure

COICOP Description Flanders Wallonia Brussels
01 Food and non-alcoholic beverages 13.9% 14.2% 14.3%
02 Alcoholic beverages, tobacco and narcotics 1.7% 2.5% 2.4%
03 Clothing and footwear 5.1% 3.9% 4.2%
04 Housing, water, electricity, gas and other fuels 29.6% 30.4% 33.9%
045 Electricity, gas and other fuels 4.4% 5.3% 3.6%
05 Furnishings, household equipment and routine household maintenance 5.3% 5.3% 4.9%
06 Health 4.4% 4.9% 4.4%
07 Transport 11.1% 13.0% 7.8%
0711 Motor cars 4.7% 5.1% 2.2%
08 Information and communication 3.1% 3.1% 3.2%
09 Recreation, sport and culture 7.6% 6.7% 6.9%
095 Newspapers, books and stationery 1.0% 0.9% 1.0%
0951 Books 0.4% 0.3% 0.5%
10 Education services 0.6% 0.4% 2.2%
11 Restaurants and accommodation services 7.0% 5.6% 7.0%
1111 Restaurants, cafés and the like 5.5% 4.4% 5.4%
1120 Hotels en soortgelijke huisvestingsdiensten 1.3% 1.0% 1.3%
12 Insurance and financial services 10.5% 10.1% 8.8%

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.