Economic Commentary: The indebtedness of Swedish households: Update for 2016


Household indebtedness has been increasing since the mid-1990s in Sweden. The latest update on household debt in Sweden show that debt continues to rise faster than income, and that low-income, young and urban households are most indebted. This Economic Commentary uses household-level data to describe the distribution of debt over time and across income and age groups as well as regions and banks.

Some of the main results are that:


  • Household debt continues to grow faster than income. Over the last 12 months, the average debt-to-income (DTI) ratio has increased by five percentage points to 343 percent.
  • Lower income groups have the highest DTI ratios but the difference in DTI levels across income groups is shrinking.
  • Municipalities with higher debt levels already in 2010 have experienced the largest increase in household indebtedness between 2010 and 2016.
  • There are considerable differences between the banks, in terms of both their customers' DTI levels and the changes in customers' DTI between 2010 and 2016.
  • Nearly 50 per cent of households do not reduce their mortgage debt. Since 2015, the share of households decreasing their mortgage debt has grown.

In order to better understand the risks linked to increasingly indebted households, the Riksbank started gathering credit information on all borrowers from the eight largest banks in Sweden in 2013. This data has enabled the Riksbank to study how indebtedness has changed over time and how it varies across income and age groups as well as regions and banks. Analyses of this credit data have been published in a number of Riksbank Economic Commentaries. In the present Economic Commentary, the authors extend the earlier analysis by using new data covering the period July 2010-July 2016.


By Peter van Santen and Dilan Ölcer.
The authors work in the Monetary Policy Department and Financial Stability Department of the Riksbank.

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