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Lifetime Income and Housing Affordability in Singapore


  • Tilak Abeysinghe

    () (Department of Economics, National University of Singapore)

  • Jiaying Gu

    (Department of Economics, National University of Singapore)


The existing measures of housing affordability are essentially short-run indicators that compare current income with property prices. Taking into consideration that a housing purchase is a long-horizon decision and the property price reflects the discounted present value of future mortgage payments, we develop a housing affordability index as the ratio of lifetime income to housing price. Lifetime income is computed by obtaining the predicted income from a regression over the working life from age 20 to 64 for each birth cohort for which limited data were available. Lifetime income of Singapore households by three income quantiles (lower, median, and upper quartiles) shed new light on the increasing income inequality. The affordability index reveals informative trends and cycles in housing affordability both in the public and private sectors. We argue why residential property price escalations need to be avoided by showing that such price increases do not necessarily create a net wealth effect for the aggregate of households

Suggested Citation

  • Tilak Abeysinghe & Jiaying Gu, 2008. "Lifetime Income and Housing Affordability in Singapore," SCAPE Policy Research Working Paper Series 0807, National University of Singapore, Department of Economics, SCAPE.
  • Handle: RePEc:sca:scaewp:0807

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    Cited by:

    1. Li, Hong & Yang, Hongxing, 2010. "Study on performance of solar assisted air source heat pump systems for hot water production in Hong Kong," Applied Energy, Elsevier, vol. 87(9), pages 2818-2825, September.

    More about this item


    lifetime income inequality; long-run housing affordability; wealth effect; price effect;

    JEL classification:

    • R21 - Urban, Rural, Regional, Real Estate, and Transportation Economics - - Household Analysis - - - Housing Demand
    • D31 - Microeconomics - - Distribution - - - Personal Income and Wealth Distribution
    • D91 - Microeconomics - - Micro-Based Behavioral Economics - - - Role and Effects of Psychological, Emotional, Social, and Cognitive Factors on Decision Making

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