Households’ debts are rising – but what assets do they have?

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Swedish households’ assets and liabilities have increased substantially in recent years. But which groups of households are highly indebted and how vulnerable are they to shocks in the economy? We know very little about this in Sweden, as we have lacked detailed data on households’ assets and liabilities for a long time. The Riksbank now wants to investigate the conditions for collecting this type of data.

"These statistics are not available today and they would contribute to a much better base for the economic-policy debate on households' vulnerability", says Jyry Hokkanen, head of statistics at the Riksbank.

 

The lack of data is a problem when one wishes to study the effects of various economic policy measures, and also in the research into the functioning of the economy as a whole. This type of data would be invaluable to the Riksbank with regard to assessing the resilience of the household sector to various economic shocks and assessing the effects of monetary policy on the economy as a whole. Several instances have in recent years pointed out the need to establish this type of statistical base, including the IMF and the Swedish government inquiry into households' over-indebtedness.

 

Given this, the Riksbank would like to investigate the possibility of collecting detailed data on households' assets and liabilities. We hope to initiate a dialogue with the report entitled "The Riksbank's proposal for new statistics on households' financial assets and liabilities" with various interested parties in society and to receive their views on our proposal. How do they view the need for detailed data and its usefulness? What are the potential obstacles and problems? Following an evaluation of such a discussion, the Riksbank could investigate in greater detail next year the conditions for this type of data collection.

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