Urbanization and Housing Investment
40 Pages Posted: 16 May 2017
Date Written: November 1, 2014
This paper provides the first systematic empirical assessment of the pace at which housing investment has responded to rising demand from urbanization. The assessment used national accounts statistics to build a data set of residential housing investment for more than 90 countries. The data set explicitly accounts for investment by households, the government, and the private sector. The analysis finds that housing investment follows an S-shaped trajectory taking off around per capita gross domestic product (GDP) of about 3,000 dollars (United States (U.S.) 2005 dollars) and tapering down at per capita GDP around 36,000 dollars (U.S. 2005 dollars). The analysis also finds that between 2001 and 2011, housing investment in low-income economies averaged 4.56 percent of GDP and 9.12 percent in upper-middle-income economies. An important finding is that countries in Sub-Saharan Africa have housing elasticities similar to comparable low-income and lower-middle-income economies. In financing housing investment, the paper finds that developing countries tend to rely much more on domestic savings and government debt, whereas high-income Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development countries lever capital markets by tapping foreign savings. Not only does excessive reliance on domestic savings and government debt increase the sensitivity of housing investment to the cyclicality of growth of GDP, it also can potentially crowd out investments in health and education.
Keywords: Services & Transfers to Poor, Housing Finance, Disability, Non Bank Financial Institutions, Economic Assistance, Access of Poor to Social Services, Capital Markets and Capital Flows
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