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Why Do the Swiss Rent?

Steven C. Bourassa

Florida Atlantic University

Martin Hoesli

University of Geneva - Graduate School of Business (HEC-Geneva); University of Aberdeen - Business School; Swiss Finance Institute

December 27, 2006

Swiss Finance Institute Research Paper No. 07-04

At 34%, Switzerland has the lowest home ownership rate in Western Europe. This is a puzzle given the economic strength of the country. We use 1998 household survey data for five Swiss cantons to explore some possible reasons for this. We estimate a tenure choice equation that allows us to analyze the impacts of a number of key variables on the ownership rate. We pay particular attention to the relative cost of owning and renting, which is a function of house prices, rents, and the user cost of owning. The latter is a function of income tax policy and expected house price inflation, among other things. We also measure mortgage underwriting criteria and consider rent control and other policies affecting rental housing. By simulating a number of hypothetical changes to taxation and other policies, underwriting criteria, and price levels, we assess the importance of these variables in explaining the ownership rate. We conclude that high house prices - relative to rents and to household incomes and wealth - are by far the most important cause of Switzerland's low ownership rate.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 48

Keywords: Home ownership, Switzerland

JEL Classification: R21, R31

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Date posted: February 22, 2007  

Suggested Citation

Bourassa, Steven C. and Hoesli, Martin, Why Do the Swiss Rent? (December 27, 2006). Swiss Finance Institute Research Paper No. 07-04. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=964637 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.964637

Contact Information

Steven C. Bourassa (Contact Author)
Florida Atlantic University ( email )
777 Glades Road
Boca Raton, FL 33431
United States
5028077642 (Phone)
Martin Edward Ralph Hoesli
University of Geneva - Graduate School of Business (HEC-Geneva) ( email )
40 Boulevard du Pont d'Arve
Geneva 4, 1211
+41 22 379 8122 (Phone)
+41 22 379 8104 (Fax)
University of Aberdeen - Business School ( email )
Edward Wright Building
Dunbar Street
Aberdeen, Scotland AB24 3QY
United Kingdom
+41 22 379 8122 (Phone)
+41 22 379 8104 (Fax)
Swiss Finance Institute ( email )
c/o University of Geneve
40, Bd du Pont-d'Arve
1211 Geneva, CH-6900

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