Skip to main content

The FRED® Blog

Measuring financial access What can we learn from cross-country variations in households' bank deposits?


The International Monetary Fund compiles a financial access survey for most countries in the world. This survey allows us to compare metrics on how households and businesses in different countries participate in financial markets—as either borrowers or lenders. For this map, we chose one particular measure that determines how much households deposit in banks, with the latest numbers from 2015 as a share of that country’s GDP. The map highlights stark differences: The general tendency is that poorer countries have smaller shares. The lowest are Malta (0.2%), Chad (8%), and Sudan (11%). But Argentina has only 16% (in 2014, since 2015 data aren’t available) and Germany has only 28%. If you’re looking for the highest, you’ll need to zoom in a lot: The tiny republic of San Marino has 280%, followed by Lebanon (254%) and Venezuela (178%).

How can we make sense of this? In countries with sophisticated financial markets, households have more options and thus may choose to put their savings in other assets. For example, it’s very popular in Germany to save by investing in building societies, which promote homeownership. Conversely, the lack of options beyond savings and deposit accounts may induce households to concentrate all their wealth there or to look for assets outside the financial sector. In other words, every country should probably have some sort of footnote attached to its numbers to explain its unique context.

How this map was created: From GeoFRED, click on “Build map”; open the cogwheel in the upper left corner, open the “Choose data” panel, select “Nation” as region type, and find the series you want.

Suggested by Christian Zimmermann.



Subscribe to the FRED newsletter


Follow us

Twitter logo Google Plus logo Facebook logo YouTube logo LinkedIn logo
Back to Top