UK Data Service series record for:
The Family Expenditure Survey (FES), which ran from 1961-2001, was a continuous annual survey that provided information on household and personal incomes, certain payments that recurred regularly (e.g. rent, gas and electricity bills, telephone accounts, insurances, season tickets and hire purchase payments), and included a detailed 14-day expenditure record. From 2001, the both the FES and the National Food Survey (NFS) were replaced by a new survey, the Expenditure and Food Survey (EFS), which subsequently became the Living Costs and Food Survey (LCF) from 2008.
GN 33057 | Family Expenditure Survey, 1961-2001
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The Family Expenditure Survey (FES), which ran from 1961-2001, was a continuous survey with an annual sample of around 10,000 households. The FES (and the National Food Survey) were replaced by a new survey, the Expenditure and Food Survey (EFS) from 2001-2002, which became the Living Costs and Food Survey (LCF) in 2008.
The FES provided information on household and personal incomes, certain payments that recurred regularly (e.g. rent, gas and electricity bills, telephone accounts, insurances, season tickets and hire purchase payments), and maintained a detailed expenditure record for 14 consecutive days.
The original purpose of the FES was to provide information on spending patterns for the United Kingdom Retail Price Index (RPI). The survey was a cost-efficient way of collecting a variety of related data that the government departments required to correlate with income and expenditure at the household, tax unit and person levels.
The FES is available annually from 1961-1963 and from 1968-2000/2001 when both the FES and the National Food Survey (NFS) were completely replaced by a new survey, the Expenditure and Food Survey (EFS), which became the Living Costs and Food Survey (LCF) in 2008.
Until 1993, the FES is available on a calendar year basis (i.e. running from January to December). From 1993, the data is supplied on a financial year basis (i.e. from April to March). From 1968 the FES incorporated a sample drawn from the Northern Ireland FES.
For a list of the datasets available, see the DATA ACCESS section of this webpage.
Although the basic unit of the survey is the household, detailed questions are asked about the income of each adult member of the household. In addition, personal information such as age, sex and marital status is recorded for each household member. Each individual aged 16 or over in the household is asked to keep diary records of daily expenditure. Information about regular expenditure, such as rent and mortgage payments, is obtained from a household interview along with retrospective information on large infrequent expenditures. Since 1995-96, children aged between 7 and 15 have also been asked to complete simplified diaries of their daily expenditure.
Information was collected about the household, the sex and age of each member, and also details about the type and size of the household accommodation. The main part of the questionnaire related to expenditure both of a household and individual nature, but the questions were mainly confined to expenses of a recurring nature, e.g.:
Income Schedule: Data were collected for each household spender. The schedule was concerned with income, national insurance contributions and income tax. Income of a child not classed as a spender was obtained from one or other of his parents and entered on the parent's questionnaire. Information collected included: employment status and recent absences from work, earnings of an employee, self-employed earnings, National Insurance contributions, pensions and other regular allowances, occasional benefits - social security benefits and other types, investment income, miscellaneous earnings of a 'once-only' character, tax paid directly to Inland Revenue or refunded, income of a child.
Diary Records: The diary covered fourteen days. Each household member aged 15 or over (or 16 or over from 1973 onwards) was asked to record all expenditure made during the 14 days. Children aged between 7 and 15 were also asked to complete simplified diaries of their daily expenditure. Data from the children's diaries was included in the survey results for the first time in 1998-99.
Variable lists and PDF user guides (including questionnaires) are freely available in the documentation section of the catalogue page for each survey. To find a survey catalogue page, follow the link from this page under DATA ACCESS or from the Discover results pages.
Since 1998/99 the FES data has used one weight which adjusts for non-response and grosses to population estimates. The 2000-2001 weighting variable is called "weight". Appendix F of the 2000-2001 FES Report ‘Family Spending’ contains further details of the weights.
These are published in the official ONS reports Family Spending and are available from a good academic library or from The Stationery Office. The current and some previous Family Spending reports are also freely downloadable in Adobe Acrobat PDF format from the National Statistics website.
Using the Family Expenditure Survey for teaching
See our teaching pages for practical information, exemplars, and tips for using UK Data Service data in teaching, including: