Pension funds

Pension funds are financial intermediaries that provide social insurance by providing income to policyholders after retirement. Often, they also provide death and disability benefits. Pension systems are important cornerstones of European household income during retirement. Pension funds also play a role in financial markets as institutional investors. For these reasons, the ECB collects statistical data on pension fund balance sheets for its analyzes of the financial system and household wealth.

Although pension plans vary widely from country to country, there are two main types: defined benefit and defined contribution. In a defined benefit policy, the future payment to the policyholder is predetermined or has at least a guaranteed minimum amount. In a defined contribution plan, on the other hand, the regular contribution (or “premium”) paid to the plan is fixed and the value of the insured’s retirement assets depends on the performance of the investments of the pension funds.

Pension fund statistics

Our pension fund statistics combine data on the different pension schemes in euro area countries into a harmonized set of statistics. All pension funds that meet the definition of social insurance are included unless they are included in other statistics, such as those of insurance companies or investment funds. Pension plans provided by governments are also excluded.

New statistics on pension funds, ECB Economic Bulletin, No 7/2020

Pension fund statistics present data on the assets and liabilities of pension funds.

Liabilities mainly consist of reserves that pension funds have built up to meet their future payment obligations to policyholders. Liabilities also include equity in pension funds, loans received and other financial obligations.

Assets show the investments of premiums paid and other liabilities. They also show the claims that pension funds might have against other parties such as reinsurance companies. These losses occur when a pension fund pays part of the premiums related to the pension policies it holds to a reinsurance company in order to transfer part of the risks of these policies. Likewise, claims of pension funds against other parties such as employers are recorded as an asset.


Pension fund balance sheet data is divided into two sections: assets and liabilities.

The assets section provides information on the assets of pension funds, that is, information on the investments of the funds, loans granted and other claims. This includes information on the country and sector of the counterparty (in the case of assets, the counterparty is usually either the issuer of the financial instruments or the beneficiary of the loan). The data also provides information on the financial instrument itself, broken down by type of instrument and by maturity.

The liabilities section provides information on claims on euro area pension funds. These liabilities consist of pension fund reserves held to cover claims by policyholders, as well as pension fund equity, loans received and other financial obligations. The data collected provides information about the instrument as well as the country and sector of the counterparty (in the case of liabilities, the counterparty is usually the policyholder or the lender).

Pension fund statistics include both information on outstanding amounts (“stock data”) and transactions (“flow data”).

Inventories refer to the value of the asset or liability at the end of the reference quarter or year. Flows refer to the sum of all acquisitions and sales of a given type of asset during the period, or the sum of all inflows and outflows from pension funds and to pension funds , recorded as liabilities.

The ECB calculates growth rates based on flow data rather than simply comparing end-of-period stocks. Growth rates are calculated from an index obtained by dividing transactions by outstanding amounts at the start of the period to which they relate.

Statistical data warehouse

Balance sheet of euro area pension funds

All time series of pension funds

Information on the balance sheet of the abandoned pension fund

From the first quarter of 2020, the harmonized statistics on euro area pension funds replace the non-harmonized statistical data set on pension funds and discontinued insurance companies (collected from the first quarter of 2008 to the second quarter of 2016 ) and discontinued statistics on non-harmonized pension funds (collected from the first quarter of 2016 to the fourth quarter). 2019).

Before the introduction of harmonized statistics, data was best collected by national central banks, which used sources other than direct collection to calculate these data.

Mapping of IC and PF datasets to historical non-harmonized data Last update: July 26, 2021


The reports below present aggregate balance sheet data for euro area pension funds for the most recent six quarters, with inventory data for all euro area pension funds combined and for each country in the euro area. euro area individually at the end of the third quarter of 2019. transactions for all euro area pension funds combined from the first quarter of 2020 and, from the first quarter of 2021, the annual growth rates as well.

All balance sheets of pension funds in the euro area Balance sheets of pension funds in euro area countries

Declaration information

The legal requirements for pension fund statistics are set out in Regulation ECB / 2018/2, which sets out the statistical standards that pension funds must meet when reporting information on their assets and liabilities. This regulation is complemented by Guideline ECB / 2019/18, which defines the procedures that national central banks must follow when reporting statistics on pension funds to the ECB. Guideline ECB / 2019/18 will be replaced from 1 February 2022 by Guideline ECB / 2021/12.

National central banks have the option of implementing a single reporting flow for statistical and prudential data. They can use national surveillance data as collected by national surveillance authorities. In order to minimize the reporting burden for pension funds, the ECB regulation allows national central banks to derive necessary statistical information from data reported for supervisory purposes.

In some countries data is collected using national models, while in other countries data is collected through a taxonomy provided by the European Insurance and Occupational Pensions Authority (EIOPA). To this end, the ECB has worked closely with EIOPA to integrate statistical requirements into supervisory data requirements.

EIOPA: Data Point Model and XBRL, Taxonomy 2.5.0

The taxonomy covers templates containing information for statistical purposes in addition to prudential requirements (“unofficial reporting templates, including ECB add-ons”). The accompanying files contain instructions on the ECB’s add-ons.

Further information on deriving pension fund statistics from supervisory reports is provided in a specific compilation guide.