Non-financial assets held by
households reflect the assets owned by unincorporated household enterprises and dwellings
owned by households, with the latter component forming by far the bulk of non-financial
assets held by households. They form an important part of overall wealth and can provide
an important additional source of revenue; either through their sale or refinancing, or as
income via rentals of residential property for example. Estimates of non-financial assets
held by households also play an important role in economic analyses, such as studies of
asset bubbles, and analyses of living standards.
Non-financial assets held by
households include in theory both produced and non-produced non-financial assets and
therefore include: Dwellings and other buildings and structures and land improvements;
Machinery and equipment including livestock; and even intellectual property products,
such as software and literary originals, and non-produced assets such as land and
taxi-licenses. In practice dwellings form by far the most significant component.
Except for dwellings, only those
assets owned by household unincorporated enterprises, and used in production, are
included as non-financial assets. For example a car used by a household purely for
household transport is not a non-financial asset whereas a car used by a self-employed
taxi driver is.
Non-financial assets are valued in
the balance sheets at the market prices of the time of the balance sheet, and are
recorded net of depreciation.
Information on non-financial
assets held by households typically relies on household based surveys and so the quality
of such information, except for that pertaining to dwellings and land, is generally of
lower quality than it is for similar information collected on incorporated
Moreover, in practice, countries
use a variety of methods to differentiate between the value of dwellings and the land on
which the dwellings sit, meaning that comparisons of these subcomponents across
countries are challenging. Some countries, for example the United Kingdom, include the
value of land under dwellings within the figures for dwellings. This matters not only
for international comparability, and indeed temporal comparisons, but also because
dwellings, as produced assets depreciate whereas (most) land, as a non-produced asset,
does not. A particular challenge arises from capturing quality change and quality
differences in the housing stock and valuing it accordingly.
The caveats above, pertaining to the distinction
between land and dwellings, mean that users should be particularly careful in using the
figures on the right in making international comparisons. The OECD Statistics
Directorate will be working with national statistics institutes so that future versions
of this publication reflect a greater degree of international comparability.
Data are net assets for all countries except for
Slovak Republic and Poland (gross assets).