Sources of household income

The main facts and figures show that:

  • on average, income from employment – earnings, salaries and self-employment – made up just under three-quarters of UK households’ total income (before tax and National Insurance was deducted) in the 3-year period 2014/15 to 2016/17
  • households in the Indian and Other White ethnic groups received the highest percentage of income from employment
  • households in the Pakistani ethnic group had the largest percentage point increase in share of income from wages, salaries or self-employment over the whole time period studied
  • the share of income from pensions received by White British households was more than three times higher than that of any other ethnic group in the 3 years 2014/15 to 2016/17
Things you need to know

Because of variations in the data from year to year, the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) takes 3 years’ worth of data and works out the average for that period. It does that every year, so each year there’s a new 3-year average. For example, the published data for the period from 2014/15 to 2016/17 is an average of the data for 2014/15, 2015/16 and 2016/17.

While this type of survey methodology increases the reliability of the data, it means that tests for significant differences between ethnic groups have not been carried out. However, commentary has been supplied for those findings where differences between ethnic groups are reasonably reliable.

A household is one person or a group of people (not necessarily related) who have the accommodation as their only or main residence. If it is a group, they must share cooking facilities and also share a living room, sitting room or dining area.

Some households contain people from different ethnic backgrounds; in these circumstances, the ethnic background of the ‘household reference person’ is used to define the ethnic background of the household.

The household reference person is the person in whose name the dwelling is owned or rented or who is otherwise responsible for the accommodation.

What the data measures

The data measures the sources of gross income for households in the UK. Gross income is the amount a household receives from all sources before taxes and other deductions.

The data is broken down by:

  • sources of income
  • the ethnic group of the ‘household reference person’ (usually the person with the highest income)

Total household income includes income from all people in the household (including children).

Income from pensions includes both the State Pension and private pensions.

Income from benefits includes both:

  • non-income related benefits like Child Benefit and Disability Living Allowance
  • income-related benefits like Council Tax Reduction and income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance
The ethnic categories used in this data

This data uses the ethnic categories included in the Family Resources Survey. It also divides the White ethnic group into White British and 'White Other' (for White ethnic minorities).

The categories are as follows:

Asian/ Asian British:

  • Indian
  • Pakistani
  • Bangladeshi
  • Chinese
  • Asian Other

Black/African/Caribbean/Black British

Mixed/ Multiple ethnic groups

White:

  • White British
  • White Other

Other

Ethnic groups and how data on ethnicity is collected

Sources of household income by ethnicity

Sources of total gross household income by ethnicity

Ethnicity All other sources Self-employed income Wages and salaries
% % %
All 28 9 63
Bangladeshi 36 9 55
Chinese 30 6 64
Indian 15 8 77
Pakistani 28 16 56
Asian other 24 10 66
Black 28 6 66
Mixed 22 7 71
White British 30 8 62
White other 14 11 75
Other 27 10 63

Download table data (CSV) Source data (CSV)

Summary

This data shows that:

  • on average, UK households received 63% of their total income from wages and salaries, 9% from self-employment, and 28% from other sources including pensions and benefits in the 3-year period 2014/15 to 2016/17
  • households in the Indian and Other White ethnic groups received the highest percentage of their income from employment (including wages, salaries and self-employment), at 85% and 86% respectively
  • households in the Bangladeshi, Chinese and White British ethnic groups received the highest percentage of income from other sources (including pensions and benefits), at 36%, 30% and 30% respectively

Percentage of income from wages, salaries or self-employment by ethnicity over time

Percentage of income from wages, salaries and self-employment by ethnicity over time

Ethnicity 2009/10-2011/12 2010/11-2012/13 2011/12-2013/14 2012/13-2014/15 2013/14-2015/16 2014/15-2016/17
% % % % % %
All 72 72 72 72 72 72
Bangladeshi 60 58 60 64 64 64
Chinese 68 69 79 74 75 70
Indian 83 84 84 85 85 85
Pakistani 65 67 69 70 72 72
Asian other 75 73 75 74 76 76
Black 72 71 69 70 72 72
Mixed 77 74 75 77 78 78
White British 71 70 70 71 70 70
White other 83 82 86 86 87 86
Other 73 74 71 69 69 73

Download table data (CSV) Source data (CSV)

Summary

This data shows that:

  • the percentage of income received from employment (including wages, salaries and self-employment) increased for most ethnic groups over the time period studied – the exceptions were White British and Black households, and those from the Other ethnic group
  • households in the Bangladeshi and Pakistani ethnic groups had the biggest increase in the share of income coming from employment over the period studied, at 4 and 7 percentage points respectively
  • households in the Bangladeshi ethnic group consistently received the lowest percentage of income from employment, although the percentage increased from 60% to 64% over the period studied

Percentage of income from pensions by ethnicity over time

Percentage of income from pensions by ethnicity over time

Ethnicity 2009/10-2011/12 2010/11-2012/13 2011/12-2013/14 2012/13-2014/15 2013/14-2015/16 2014/15-2016/17
% % % % % %
All 14 15 15 15 15 15
Bangladeshi 6 8 7 5 5 5
Chinese 3 4 2 3 2 4
Indian 5 5 6 5 6 5
Pakistani 4 4 3 3 3 2
Asian other 4 4 4 5 4 4
Black 5 5 6 6 5 5
Mixed 5 5 5 5 6 4
White British 16 17 17 17 17 18
White other 6 6 4 4 4 4
Other 7 7 8 7 5 4

Download table data (CSV) Source data (CSV)

Summary

This data shows that:

  • the percentage of household income coming from the State Pension and private pensions combined remained stable for all ethnic groups over the period studied, with no increase or decrease of more than 3 percentage points between the start and the end of the period studied
  • White British households received the highest percentage of income from pensions throughout the time period studied (at between 16% and 18%) – this was between 9 and 16 percentage points more than the other ethnic groups
  • households in the Pakistani ethnic group received the lowest percentage of income from pensions, and the percentage decreased from 4% to 2% over the time period studied

Percentage of income from benefits and tax credits by ethnicity over time

Percentage of income from benefits and tax credits (excluding State Pension and pension credits) by ethnicity over time

Ethnicity 2009/10-2011/12 2010/11-2012/13 2011/12-2013/14 2012/13-2014/15 2013/14-2015/16 2014/15-2016/17
% % % % % %
All 9 9 8 8 8 8
Bangladeshi 27 26 27 24 25 24
Chinese 4 4 4 3 3 3
Indian 8 6 6 6 5 5
Pakistani 24 24 22 21 18 19
Asian other 11 12 10 10 9 9
Black 17 19 20 19 17 17
Mixed 14 15 14 12 11 11
White British 10 9 9 8 8 8
White other 8 8 6 6 5 5
Other 12 12 14 14 13 12

Download table data (CSV) Source data (CSV)

Summary

This data shows that:

  • on average, the percentage of household income coming from benefits and tax credits combined was broadly stable, at between 8% and 9% over the time period covered
  • households in the Pakistani ethnic group had the biggest decrease in the share of income from benefits and tax credits, at 5 percentage points
  • households in the Bangladeshi ethnic group received the highest percentage of income from benefits and tax credits throughout the time period covered, ranging from 24% to 27%
  • households in the Chinese ethnic group received the lowest percentage of income from benefits and tax credits throughout the time period covered, at either 3% or 4%

Methodology

Methodology

The Family Resources Survey (FRS) is a continuous household survey which collects information on a representative sample of private households in the UK. Detailed information is recorded on respondents’ income from all sources:

  • housing tenure
  • caring needs and responsibilities
  • disability
  • spending on housing
  • education
  • pension scheme participation
  • childcare
  • family circumstances
  • child maintenance

The survey is conducted in respondents’ homes. In the latest 3-year period, 2014/15 to 2016/17, the FRS sample consisted of just over 58,000 households in the UK. It has a financial-year survey period with surveys conducted throughout the year and is cross-sectional (a ‘snapshot’ of households over the year). Individuals are not followed up for later surveys.

Estimates are subject to sampling error and non-sampling bias. The FRS only covers private households. Therefore, individuals who live in communal accommodation like care homes or have no fixed address (for example, who are homeless) are not included in these results.

Households where every resident aged 16 years and over responds to the questions are classed as fully co-operating. Only households with full co-operation are included in the analysis. This may introduce some error, as the characteristics of individuals living in households which do not respond fully may be different to those who fully co-operate. Therefore, the sample will be more representative of those who do respond fully. Overall, 54% of households fully co-operated with the survey, meaning there was a sample size of 19,387 households in 2016/17.

Results derived from a low number of responses are more likely to be affected by statistical variation, so observed changes might not reflect real differences. As such, caution is needed when interpreting short-term trends in the data, especially for subgroups (for example, a specific ethnic group, age group and gender). Using a 3-year average for income minimises the risks due to uncertainty.

As the data is presented as a 3-year average, no statistical tests have been carried out to determine whether the estimates taken from the survey are statistically significantly different from one another.

In other words, as the results are based on a sample of the population, without further testing it isn’t possible to determine whether any differences observed would likely be seen across the entire population. This means that conclusions about differences between groups cannot be drawn. However, the data is still useful because it indicates where differences between ethnic groups might exist.

Weighting:

Weighting is used to adjust the results of a survey to make them representative of the population and improve their accuracy.

For example, a survey which contains 25% women and 75% men will not accurately reflect the views of the general population, which we know has an even 50/50 split.

Statisticians rebalance or ‘weight’ the survey results to more accurately represent the general population. This helps to make them more reliable.

Survey weights are usually applied to make sure the survey sample has broadly the same gender, age, ethnic and geographic make up as the general population.’

Suppression rules and disclosure control

Any values based on fewer than 100 responses have been suppressed.

Rounding

Percentages are given to the nearest whole percentage point. Due to this rounding, some figures may not add up to 100.

Related publications

State support

Family Resources Survey with previous years' data and background information

Quality and methodology information

Data sources

Source

Type of data

Survey data

Type of statistic

National Statistics

Publisher

Department for Work and Pensions

Publication frequency

Yearly

Purpose of data source

The Family Resources Survey (FRS) provides the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) with data to inform the development, monitoring and evaluation of social welfare policy.

The survey is used by many other government departments, and for tax and benefit policy modelling by HM Treasury and HM Revenue and Customs. The FRS is also used extensively by academics and research institutes for social and economic research.

Download the data

Sources of household income - Spreadsheet (csv) 19 KB

This file contains data for the 3-year period 2009/10 to 2016/17. This is the latest data available. This file contains: measure, ethnicity, year, value