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Income, consumption, living conditions

Continuous household budget surveys (LWR)

What do continuous household budget surveys describe?

Continuous household budget surveys (LWR) provide, among other things, statistical information on their income and expenditure of households, their equipment with consumer durables and their housing situation. The LWR cover households of nearly all social groups, so that they give a representative picture of the life situation of almost the entire population in Germany.
Generally, the surveys do not cover households of self-employed and self-employed farmers, persons without fixed abode (homeless) or living in communal establishments and institutions as well as households with a monthly household net income of over EUR 18,000.
In official statistics, the LWR results on final consumption expenditure of households are used to re-arrange the weighting patterns of consumer price statistics and to serve as a data basis for the use approach of national accounts.

How are the continuous household budget surveys conducted?

Within the scope of the LWR, households in Germany are asked every year on their income situation, consumption patterns, housing situation and equipment with consumer durables. Only those households are included in the survey which voluntarily provide information on the questions asked in the questionnaire.

The legal basis for the survey is the Act on household budget statistics in the adjusted version published in the Federal Law Gazette, part III, number 708-6, last amended by section 5 of the Act of 21 July 2016 (Federal Law Gazette I, p. 1773).

The methodical bases of the Continuous household budget surveys (LWR) have changed over time as follows:
Until 1998, 2,000 households listed their detailed income and expenditure for one year. The households questioned came from three selected household types: 2-person household of pensioners, 4-person household of employees with a medium income and 4-person household of employees with a higher income. Due to the increasing complexity of life situations, it was no longer possible to represent all households by those three household types. With the additional goal of harmonising the household budget surveys, the group of respondents was extended and the recording rhythm was changed.

Since 1999 all households - with the exception of households of self-employed and farmers - have been represented in the continuous household budget surveys. From 1999 to 2004 a representative quota sample of 6,000 households provided information on their income and expenditure for four reference months each (i. e. one month per quarter). The LWR was further rearranged to harmonise it with the sample survey of income and expenditure (EVS).

Since survey year 2005 the LWR have been based on a subsample of the latest EVS. Selected households form the sample for the LWR until the next EVS is conducted. With every EVS, a new sampling frame for the LWR becomes available. In the EVS survey years, no separate LWR survey is conducted. 2,000 households keep their diaries (quarterly diaries) for three consecutive months, so that the total sample size for the survey year is 8,000 households. Comparability is limited for LWR results from years with different survey methods.

Since 2004, the "general information" has been collected also through an online survey, i. e. households may either complete paper questionnaires or provide their data electronically through web questionnaires. The data reported online are included in the overall result for all households.

In their new design, the continuous household budget surveys have been divided into two separate parts since 1999:

  • the "general information" (data for reference day 1 January, among other things on the equipment with consumer durables),
  • and the "household book" (data on income and expenditure in the survey months).

The results for the households covered are expanded to the population of some 34 million households (excluding self-employed and farmers).

Where are the results of the continuous household budget surveys published?

The LWR results are published in Fachserie 15, Reihe 1: "Einnahmen und Ausgaben privater Haushalte" and in Fachserie 15, Reihe 2: "Ausstattung privater Haushalte mit ausgewählten Gebrauchsgütern". The most recent Fachserien are available for free download from the publication service of the Federal Statistical Office. Selected results are also contained in the statistical information system GENESIS-Online.

For more detailed information on the LWR please refer to the quality report (only German).

Signs and symbols in the tables:
= no figures or magnitude zero
/ = no data because the numerical value is not sufficiently reliable
. = numerical value unknown or not be disclosed
X = cell blocked for logical reasons
() = limited informational value because numerical value is of limited statistical reliability

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