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Consumer spending in the United States, the United Kingdom, and Japan

March 06, 2017

In 2014, U.S. consumers spent 18.7 percent of their total spending on transportation, which was nearly twice as much as Japanese consumers. U.S. consumers spent 8.8 percent on out-of-pocket healthcare expenditures, which was more than 5 times higher than the percentage for consumers in the United Kingdom.

Shares of total consumer expenditures for selected categories, the United States, United Kingdom, and Japan, 2014
Category United States United Kingdom     Japan    

Total

100.0 100.0 100.0

Public transportation

1.2 3.5 2.5

Education

2.5 2.1 3.6

Alcoholic beverages and tobacco products

1.7 6.3 1.6

Clothing

3.7 5.1 4.1

Automobile purchases

6.8 5.4 1.6

Healthcare

8.8 1.5 4.3

Food away from home

5.7 5.5 4.8

All other transportation

10.7 7.3 5.9

Culture, entertainment, and recreation

5.8 14.9 9.8

Food at home

8.2 11.2 18.5

Other categories

18.4 8.7 19.6

Housing

26.6 28.5 23.7

Note: Other categories include miscellaneous expenditure shares and also categories that are unique to a particular country.

The major components of consumer spending in the United States, the United Kingdom, and Japan are housing, food, transportation, healthcare, and clothing. U.S. consumers spent the most for transportation and healthcare. Japanese consumers had the highest share of spending for food. Consumers in the United Kingdom spent the most for housing and clothing.

Housing was the largest expenditure component in all three countries in 2014. Consumers in the United Kingdom had the highest housing share of total expenditures, 28.5 percent. Japan had the lowest housing share among the three countries, 23.7 percent.

Japanese consumers had the highest food expenditure share of the three countries, with total food expenditures accounting for 23.2 percent of total consumer spending in Japan. In the United Kingdom, consumers allocated 16.7 percent of their total spending for food. Although the United States had a lower total food expenditure share (13.9 percent) than either Japan or the United Kingdom, U.S. consumers had a higher percentage of expenditures for food away from home (5.7 percent).

The transportation category consists of automobile purchases, public transportation, and other transportation subgroups such as automobile maintenance. Compared with the other two countries, consumers in the United States had the largest share of total expenditures for transportation, 18.7 percent. The transportation share was 16.2 percent for consumers in the United Kingdom and 10.0 percent for those in Japan.

The United States had the highest out-of-pocket healthcare share among these three countries, 8.8 percent, compared with 4.3 percent in Japan and 1.5 percent in the United Kingdom. The healthcare share for the United States is higher because a significant portion of healthcare costs in the United Kingdom and Japan are paid indirectly through a national healthcare system. Medical costs paid indirectly are not included in out-of-pocket healthcare expenditures.

To learn more, see the recent Beyond the Numbers article "How do United States consumer expenditures compare with the United Kingdom and Japan?" by Brett Creech. Data for the United States come from the Consumer Expenditure Survey.

SUGGESTED CITATION

Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, The Economics Daily, Consumer spending in the United States, the United Kingdom, and Japan on the Internet at https://www.bls.gov/opub/ted/2017/consumer-spending-in-united-states-united-kingdom-and-japan.htm (visited October 25, 2020).

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