Parliamentary question on 19 January 2015
Mr Gerald Giam Yean Song asked the Minister for Trade and Industry whether the Department of Statistics can publish income and expenditure statistics by individuals in addition to by households so as to provide more precise measurements on poverty since individuals in a household may have different access to the household income.
Mr Lim Hng Kiang: The Department of Statistics provides detailed statistics on households’ monthly expenditure and income based on the Household Expenditure Survey (HES).
Data from the HES is analysed on a household basis, and not on an individual basis, to reflect the sharing of goods and services as well as income resources within the household. Many expenditure items including food, utilities and household goods are shared among members of a household, and it would not be feasible to attribute a specific share of the household’s expenditure on each item to individual household members. In addition, income resources are commonly pooled to support household members who are not earning an income, such as children, the elderly or a non-working spouse. Similar to the case for expenditure, it would be difficult to ascertain how much income resources each household member has consumed.
The use of the household as the basic unit of analysis for the HES is in accordance with international best practices recommended by the International Labour Organisation (ILO), and is also adopted by other national statistical offices such as those in Australia, Hong Kong and the United States.