EU Housing, food & transport: 61 % of households’ budgets


Data from the latest Household Budget Survey (HBS) show that in 2020, 60.6 % of the household consumption expenditure in 23 EU countries, for which data are currently available, was spent on housing, water, electricity, gas, and other fuels (32.7 %), food and non-alcoholic beverages (17.1%), and transport (10.8%).

An additional fifth (20.4  %) of household budgets in the EU members in 2020 was spent on recreation and culture (6.7 %), furnishings and household equipment (4.9 %), restaurants and hotels (4.8 %) and clothing and footwear (4.0 %).


A deeper analysis indicates differences between countries. Expenditure on housing, water, electricity, gas and other fuels represented the highest share of household budgets in the vast majority of EU countries, ranging from 8.4 % in Malta to 49.2 % in Hungary.

The second most important item was expenditure on food and non-alcoholic beverages for most Member States. In Denmark, Germany, Luxembourg, Austria and Slovenia, the second position was for transport.

Estonia and Malta had different patterns where food and non-alcoholic beverages represented the most important expenditure item, with 22.3 % and 19.8 % of household budgets, respectively.

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Methodological notes: 

  • The fieldwork for the 2020 HBS data collection took place between 2018 and 2022 for the majority of the countries. Data for Cyprus, Malta and France were collected between 2015 and 2017. For countries where the data collection period differed from the reference year 2020, household consumption expenditure was adjusted using price coefficients, to bring the price of the data collection period to the level of the reference year.
  • For Finland, Ireland, Portugal and Sweden, data for the 2020 wave were not available when this article was prepared.
  • The data collection and expenditure patterns of households in some countries could have been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic and related restrictions.