This is a surprising statistic, but the more you look at it, the less it means. Astute readers will note that some of the poorest nations have the highest home ownership, while some of the richest have the lowest. Of course, the tremendous variation in home size and quality makes them difficult to compare, but the following charts suggest that American homes are not necessarily the world's largest and most expensive:

Cost of a Home (average price of a home as a multiple of average annual salary):
Japan           8.62
Italy           6.42
United Kingdom  6.13
Canada          4.87
Australia       3.36
United States   3.00
Sweden          2.99
Netherlands     1.80

Size of Home (square feet):

Australia       3,038
Netherlands     2,500
Canada          2,000
United States   1,773
Italy           1,345
Sweden          1,250
United Kingdom  1,050
Japan             800

And what of renting? Here is what the monthly rent for a medium-priced four-room metropolitan apartment costs:

Japan           $6,340
United States    1,600
United Kingdom   1,230
Canada             960
Norway             870
Switzerland        870
Australia          780
Finland            680
Germany            540
Denmark            510
Netherlands        480
Sweden             420

What the statistics on home ownership really show is that some nations have made more of a commitment to larger houses at more affordable prices than the U.S., despite having lower productivity levels. And the percentage of home ownership does indeed measure something important: the ability of nuclear families to live independently and privately.

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