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Do we really understand homeownership rates? An international study

Carl R. Gwin (Graziadio School of Business and Management, Pepperdine University, Malibu, California, USA)
Seow‐Eng Ong (Department of Real Estate, National University of Singapore, Singapore)

International Journal of Housing Markets and Analysis

ISSN: 1753-8270

Article publication date: 4 April 2008




This paper attempts to fill two gaps in the homeownership literature identified by Dietz and Haurin: homeownership in less developed countries and the effects of race, ethnicity and income on tenure choice.


United Nations data from 1993 and 1998 are used to offer a cross‐country analysis of the determinants of homeownership rates. Consistent with the previous literature, this study confirms that the price‐to‐rent ratio is an important factor in tenure choice and increases in income are associated with increases in the percentage of consumers who choose to own. However, these relationships seem to hold generally only for higher income developed countries.


In contrast to the previous literature that finds race and ethnicity account for a significant portion of the differences in US homeownership rates, this study finds no evidence that these determinants account for differences across countries. The authors investigate the rule of law and find it is closely correlated with income measures which may indicate that countries with stronger laws encourage higher homeownership rates. Finally, capitalist/(formerly) communist regime differences do not appear to explain cross country differences in homeownership rates.

Research limitations/implications

This research is limited by the scope and quality of the UN data.

Practical implications

The paper offers insights from the international evidence for the potential of selected policies to increase domestic homeownership rates and identifies several avenues for future international homeownership research.


This paper provides an initial empirical analysis on international homeownership in an attempt to fill gaps in the homeownership literature.



Gwin, C.R. and Ong, S. (2008), "Do we really understand homeownership rates? An international study", International Journal of Housing Markets and Analysis, Vol. 1 No. 1, pp. 52-67.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2008, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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