A recent survey carried out by Saudi Arabia's General Authority for Statistics (GaStat) found that the average expenditures of families in Saudi Arabia exceed their median incomes, Saudi Gazette reported.
The Household Income and Expenditure study was carried out over 13 months between February 2017 and March 2018. It revealed that the average monthly income of a Saudi family reached 14,823 riyals ($3,951) within that time frame, while the average monthly expenditure stood at 16,125 riyals ($4,298).
The probe also covered the incomes and expenditures of expat families living in the kingdom. Their monthly expenditures also exceeded their incomes, averaging 12,818 riyals ($3,416) against median incomes of 11,984 ($3,195).
What's noticeable in this survey are the 3,000-riyal difference between a Saudi family's income versus an expat's, and the income-expenditure gap size that's just over 800 riyals for expat families versus 1,300 riyals for Saudi families.
Dr. Fahad Bin Sulaiman Al Tekhaifi, president of GaStat, said in a press conference that the results will "have a major role in supporting projects related to income and expenditure of families such as social protection, social development and family affairs."
He explained that the authority carried out a number of advanced procedures to ensure the quality of the data collected for the study.
Al Tekhaifi also announced that this survey won't be the last to be conducted in the next few years, revealing plans to "conduct similar surveys every three years effective from 2021."
These results left Saudis divided
The study's results were well received by some who felt they did reflect the current reality in the kingdom. However, others criticized the findings, saying thousands of Saudi families make average monthly incomes less than those reported.
"The average income is 14,800 riyals? That's my total income for five months," wrote one online user.
"Which economic class did you target for this survey? Did you integrate the majority [poor] which is 85 percent?" tweeted another.
Some felt the survey made sense
"It's accurate. Saudi families spend more than they make. It's a reality we're living in."
Others, not so much
"This is bizarre!! Question: Where's this Statistics Authority living!?? Are they in the same country as we are!??"
Saudis were having none of this and couldn't help but make jokes
"People: You're liars, this is not a survey about us.
Statistics Authority: ..."
So how was this survey conducted?
The survey was carried out in a time-span of 13 months, with each month being dedicated to a different sample of families.
This is "so as to measure the change in spending patterns and levels as a result of seasonal, temporary, and periodical changes."
During the study period, researchers received daily and monthly supportive records and documents from families. They also carried out face-to-face interviews and made several visits to families featured in the study in order to ensure data collection accuracy.
The survey's scope covered cities across the kingdom and families were selected to take part in it via a "random sampling method."