Non-financial assets of households

Non-financial assets held by households reflect the assets owned by unincorporated household enterprises and dwellings owned by households, with the latter representing 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.

Definition

Non-financial assets held by households include, in theory, both produced and non-produced non-financial assets, i.e. dwellings, other buildings and structures and land improvements; machinery and equipment including livestock; and 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 at the market prices at the time of the balance sheet, and are recorded net of depreciation.

Comparability

Information on non-financial assets held by households typically relies on household based surveys. As a consequence, the quality of this information, except for that pertaining to dwellings and land, is generally of lower quality than it is for similar information collected on incorporated businesses.

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 include the value of land under dwellings within the figures for dwellings. This matters not only for international comparability but also because dwellings, as produced assets depreciate whereas 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 in making international comparisons. The OECD is working with national statistics institutes so that future versions of these data reflect a greater degree of international comparability.

Data are assets net of depreciation for all countries except for the Slovak Republic and Poland (gross recording).

Overview

The non-financial assets of households in dwellings constitute a large share of household wealth. This indicator is of particular interest since the financial crisis because it may indicate risks of a speculative bubble.

In most OECD countries dwelling values per capita have grown steadily since 2010. In contrast, dwelling values per capita have fallen since 2010 in the Netherlands. The Netherland’s land values have also exhibited sizable declines in recent years (minus 10% in 2012 and minus 9.7% in 2013).

Only nine OECD countries currently provide data on land. For those countries reporting data the value of the land exceeds that of dwellings in 5 of them in 2013.

Sources

Further information

Analytical publications

Statistical publications

Methodological publications

Websites

Table. Non-financial assets of households

 http://dx.doi.org/10.1787/888933336271

Non-financial assets of households per capita: dwellings
US dollars at current PPPs
picture

 http://dx.doi.org/10.1787/888933335085