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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