Sources of household income

Published

1. Main facts and figures

  • on average, households received just under three-quarters of their total income from earnings, salaries and self-employment in the 3-year period 2015/16 to 2017/18 (before deductions like tax and National Insurance)
  • households in the Indian and Other White ethnic groups received the highest percentage of their income from employment
  • households in the Pakistani ethnic group had the largest increase in the percentage of income from employment over the period studied
  • on average, the percentage of income that White British households received from pensions was at least three times higher than any other ethnic group
Things you need to know

Because the data varies 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. For example, the published data for the period from 2015/16 to 2017/18 is an average of the data for the three years 2015/16, 2016/17 and 2017/18. DWP works out a new 3-year average every year.

While this increases the reliability of the data, it means that some statistical tests have not been carried out. The commentary on this page is for differences between ethnic groups that are reasonably reliable.

Some households contain people from different ethnic backgrounds. The ethnicity assigned to the household is that of the head of the household (usually the person with the highest income).

What the data measures

This data shows the percentage of income coming from different sources for households in the UK. Percentages are based on gross income, which is the amount before taxes and other deductions.

A household can be either:

  • one person living alone
  • a group of people living at the same address sharing a kitchen and either a living room, sitting room or dining area

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

The Family Resources Survey uses the following ethnic categories:

Asian/Asian British:

  • Indian
  • Pakistani
  • Bangladeshi
  • Chinese
  • Other Asian

Black/African/Caribbean/Black British

Mixed/Multiple ethnic groups

White:

  • White British
  • White Other (White ethnic minorities)

Other ethnic group

2. Sources of income by ethnicity

Percentage of gross household income that came from wages and salaries, self-employment, and all other sources, by ethnicity
Ethnicity All other sources Self-employed income Wages and salaries
% % %
All 28 9 63
Asian 21 11 68
Bangladeshi 38 7 55
Chinese 25 11 64
Indian 14 9 77
Pakistani 27 19 54
Asian other 23 11 66
Black 29 7 64
Mixed 23 6 71
White 28 9 63
White British 30 8 62
White other 14 12 74
Other 24 9 67

Download table data for ‘Sources of income by ethnicity’ (CSV) Source data for ‘Sources of income by ethnicity’ (CSV)

Summary

This data shows that:

  • on average, households received 63% of their total income from wages and salaries, 9% from self-employment, and 28% from other sources including pensions and benefits
  • 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 86%
  • households in the Bangladeshi and White British ethnic groups receiving the highest percentage of their income from other sources (including pensions and benefits), at 38% and 30% respectively

3. Share of income from wages, salaries or self-employment by ethnicity over time

Percentage of gross household income that came 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 2015/16-2017/18
% % % % % % %
All 72 72 72 72 72 72 72
Asian 75 76 78 77 78 78 79
Bangladeshi 60 58 60 64 64 64 62
Chinese 68 69 79 74 75 70 75
Indian 83 84 84 85 85 85 86
Pakistani 65 67 69 70 72 72 73
Asian other 75 73 75 74 76 76 77
Black 72 71 69 70 72 72 71
Mixed 77 74 75 77 78 78 77
White 72 72 71 72 71 72 72
White British 71 70 70 71 70 70 70
White other 83 82 86 86 87 86 86
Other 73 74 71 69 69 73 76

Download table data for ‘Share of income from wages, salaries or self-employment by ethnicity over time’ (CSV) Source data for ‘Share of income from wages, salaries or self-employment by ethnicity over time’ (CSV)

Summary

This data shows that:

  • on average, households received 72% of their gross income from employment (wages, salaries and self-employment) in every year of the period studied
  • households in all 5 Asian ethnic groups saw an increase in the percentage of their income coming from employment over the period studied
  • households in the Other White and Other ethnic groups also saw an increase in the percentage of income coming from employment
  • households in the Pakistani ethnic group had the biggest increase in the percentage of income coming from employment over the period studied, from 65% to 73% over the period studied
  • households in the Bangladeshi ethnic group consistently had the lowest percentage of income coming from employment, although it increased from 60% to 62% over the period studied

4. Share of income from pensions by ethnicity over time

Percentage of gross household income that came 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 2015/16-2017/18
% % % % % % %
All 14 15 15 15 15 15 15
Asian 5 5 5 4 4 4 4
Bangladeshi 6 8 7 5 5 5 6
Chinese 3 4 2 3 2 4 3
Indian 5 5 6 5 6 5 4
Pakistani 4 4 3 3 3 2 3
Asian other 4 4 4 5 4 4 4
Black 5 5 6 6 5 5 5
Mixed 5 5 5 5 6 4 4
White 15 15 15 16 17 17 17
White British 16 17 17 17 17 18 18
White other 6 6 4 4 4 4 4
Other 7 7 8 7 5 4 4

Download table data for ‘Share of income from pensions by ethnicity over time’ (CSV) Source data for ‘Share of income from pensions by ethnicity over time’ (CSV)

Summary

This data shows that:

  • on average, households received 15% of their income from pensions in the most recent period (the 3 years from 2015/16 to 2017/18)
  • the percentage of household income coming from pensions remained stable for all ethnic groups except Other, with no variation of more than 3 percentage points over the period studied
  • White British households received the highest percentage of their income from pensions in every year of the period studied, at between 16% and 18%
  • households in the Pakistani and Chinese ethnic groups consistently received the lowest percentage of their income from pensions

5. Share of income from benefits and tax credits by ethnicity over time

Percentage of gross household income that came 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 2015/16-2017/18
% % % % % % %
All 9 9 8 8 8 8 8
Asian 12 12 12 11 10 10 9
Bangladeshi 27 26 27 24 25 24 27
Chinese 4 4 4 3 3 3 3
Indian 8 6 6 6 5 5 5
Pakistani 24 24 22 21 18 19 18
Asian other 11 12 10 10 9 9 10
Black 17 19 20 19 17 17 17
Mixed 14 15 14 12 11 11 11
White 8 8 8 8 8 7 6
White British 10 9 9 8 8 8 7
White other 8 8 6 6 5 5 4
Other 12 12 14 14 13 12 10

Download table data for ‘Share of income from benefits and tax credits by ethnicity over time’ (CSV) Source data for ‘Share of income from benefits and tax credits by ethnicity over time’ (CSV)

Summary

This data shows that:

  • overall, the percentage of household income coming from benefits and tax credits was broadly stable at between 8% and 9% over the period studied
  • Pakistani households had the biggest percentage point drop in the share of income from benefits and tax credits, from 24% to 18% over the period studied
  • Bangladeshi households received the highest percentage of income from benefits and tax credits in every year of the period studied, ranging from 24% to 27%
  • Chinese households received the lowest percentage of income from benefits and tax credits (either 3% or 4%) in every year of the period studied

6. 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
  • expenditure on housing
  • education
  • pension scheme participation
  • childcare
  • family circumstances
  • child maintenance

The survey is conducted in respondents’ homes.

In the latest three-year period, 2015/16 to 2017/18, the FRS sample consisted of almost 60,000 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). The same individuals are not then approached again (i.e. there is no further ‘wave’ of the survey). Since responses reflect only a sample of the total population, they are weighted on the basis of subnational population totals by age and sex to give estimates for the entire UK household population.

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

Households where every resident over the age of 16 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 do fully co-operate. Therefore, the sample will be biased towards (that is, more representative of) those who do respond fully. Overall, 52% of households fully co-operated with the survey, meaning there was a sample size of 19,136 households in 2017/18.

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 to an extent. As the data is presented as a 3-year average, no statistical tests have been performed 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 is important to consider and means that conclusions around differences between groups cannot be drawn. However, the data is still useful because it indicates where differences between ethnic groups might exist.

Suppression rules and disclosure control

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

Rounding

Percentages have been rounded to the nearest whole number. Due to this, some figures may not add up to 100%.

Related publications

Family Resources Survey.

Quality and methodology information

7. 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 main purpose of the Family Resources Survey (FRS) is to give the Department for Work and Pensions data to develop, monitor and evaluate social welfare policy.

The survey is also used by other government departments, including 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.

8. Download the data

Sources of Household Income - Spreadsheet (csv) 146 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