Chinese Cities Lead List of the World's Most Unaffordable

While it may not have the world's highest absolute property values, Beijing has the highest imbalance between housing prices and incomes. Gwynn Guilford examines why this is problematic for the country's economic and social wellbeing.
July 2, 2013, 11am PDT | Jonathan Nettler | @nettsj
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"Five big Chinese cities rank among the priciest housing markets in the world, surpassing notoriously expensive cities like Tokyo, London and New York, based on calculations by the International Monetary Fund," reports Guilford. By measuring the price-to-wage ratio (median housing prices versus median disposable incomes), the IMF data shows that "the mid-range price of an apartment in New York is 6.2 times more than what a typical family makes in a year. By comparison, it would take nearly a quarter-century of earnings to buy a pad in Beijing’s capital outright."

"Residential property is a big mess for the Chinese government—and it’s not going away," adds Guilford. "That’s worrying news for the government; housing prices are a major source of public resentment. The danger isn’t just the threat of popular unrest, though: It’s that soaring property prices make people feel less wealthy and less inclined to consume. And that’s exactly what the government needs them to do in order to wean the economy off its dependency on exports and credit-driven investment."


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Published on Monday, July 1, 2013 in Quartz
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