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Lifetime Income and Housing Affordability in Singapore


  • Tilak Abeysinghe


  • Jiaying Gu



Most commonly used measures of housing affordability are essentially short-run indicators that compare current income with house prices or housing costs. Despite the emphasis in the literature on the importance of long-term affordability, researchers have not developed measures of lifetime income because of data constraints. Many developed countries publish annually household income by age of household heads. Using these data for Singapore, the paper presents a methodology to compute lifetime income from predicted annual household earnings over the working life for each birth cohort in the dataset. The lifetime income of Singapore households by three income quantiles sheds new light on widening income gaps. The affordability index, defined as the ratio of lifetime income to house price, reveals informative trends and cycles in housing affordability in both the public and the private sectors. The paper argues that residential property price escalations need to be avoided.

Suggested Citation

  • Tilak Abeysinghe & Jiaying Gu, 2011. "Lifetime Income and Housing Affordability in Singapore," Urban Studies, Urban Studies Journal Limited, vol. 48(9), pages 1875-1891, July.
  • Handle: RePEc:sae:urbstu:v:48:y:2011:i:9:p:1875-1891

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Charles Himmelberg & Christopher Mayer & Todd Sinai, 2005. "Assessing High House Prices: Bubbles, Fundamentals and Misperceptions," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 19(4), pages 67-92, Fall.
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    4. Mayo, Stephen & Sheppard, Stephen, 2001. "Housing Supply and the Effects of Stochastic Development Control," Journal of Housing Economics, Elsevier, vol. 10(2), pages 109-128, June.
    5. Davis, Morris A. & Heathcote, Jonathan, 2007. "The price and quantity of residential land in the United States," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 54(8), pages 2595-2620, November.
    6. Brent W. Ambrose & Joe Peek, 2008. "Credit Availability and the Structure of the Homebuilding Industry," Real Estate Economics, American Real Estate and Urban Economics Association, vol. 36(4), pages 659-692, December.
    7. Nathalie Girouard & Mike Kennedy & Christophe André, 2006. "Has the Rise in Debt Made Households More Vulnerable?," OECD Economics Department Working Papers 535, OECD Publishing.
    8. Reinhart, Karmen & Rogoff, Kenneth, 2009. ""This time is different": panorama of eight centuries of financial crises," Economic Policy, Russian Presidential Academy of National Economy and Public Administration, vol. 1, pages 77-114, March.
    9. Ihlanfeldt, Keith R., 2007. "The effect of land use regulation on housing and land prices," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 61(3), pages 420-435, May.
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    Cited by:

    1. Tilak Abeysinghe, "undated". "Old-age dependency: Is it really increasing in aging populations?," SCAPE Policy Research Working Paper Series 1601, National University of Singapore, Department of Economics, SCAPE.

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