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Ranked: The World’s Least Affordable Cities to Buy a Home

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Least Affordable Housing Markets

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The Briefing

  • For the 10th year in a row, Hong Kong is the world’s least affordable housing market
  • The U.S. is home to a mixture of the most and least affordable housing markets

Ranked: The World’s Least Affordable Cities to Buy a Home

In certain parts of the world, housing prices have risen much faster than household incomes, making home ownership increasingly more difficult for the average Joe.

Using data from Demographia published in 2020, this graphic looks at some of the world’s most expensive housing markets.

The Least Affordable Housing Markets

It’s worth noting that this data looks at housing affordability specifically for middle-income earners. While it’s far from globally exhaustive, it measures affordability in 309 major metropolitan areas across Australia, Canada, Hong Kong, Ireland, New Zealand, Singapore, the U.S., and the UK.

In this study, a city’s affordability is calculated by taking its median housing price and dividing it by the median household income.

  • Moderately Unaffordable: 3.1 to 4.0
  • Seriously Unaffordable: 4.1 to 5.0
  • Severely Unaffordable: 5.1+

All the cities on this graphic classify as severely unaffordable. Perhaps unsurprisingly, Hong Kong is the most unaffordable housing market—scoring 20.8 to take the top spot.

Housing MarketCountryScore
Hong Kong🇨🇳 China20.8
Vancouver, BC🇨🇦 Canada11.9
Sydney, NSW🇦🇺 Australia11.0
Melbourne, VIC🇦🇺 Australia9.5
Los Angeles, CA🇺🇸 United States9.0
Auckland🇳🇿 New Zealand8.6
Toronto, ON🇨🇦 Canada8.6
San Jose, CA🇺🇸 United States8.5
San Francisco, CA🇺🇸 United States8.4
London (Greater London Authority)🇬🇧 United Kingdom8.2
Honolulu, HI🇺🇸 United States8.0
San Diego, CA🇺🇸 United States7.3
Adelaide, SA🇦🇺 Australia6.9
Bournemouth & Dorsett🇬🇧 United Kingdom6.9

Home to 7.5 million people, Hong Kong has ranked as the world’s least affordable city for 10 consecutive years. Because of its steep housing prices, nano apartments have risen in popularity over the last decade.

The Most Affordable Housing Markets

Three of the most expensive housing markets are in America, but at the same time, the country also contains some of the most affordable markets in the eight-country study, too.

In fact, the top 10 most affordable cities are all in America:

CityCountryScore
Rochester, NY🇺🇸 United States2.5
Cleveland, OH🇺🇸 United States2.7
Oklahoma City, OK🇺🇸 United States2.7
Buffalo, NY🇺🇸 United States2.8
Cincinnati, OH-KY-IN🇺🇸 United States2.8
Pittsburgh, PA🇺🇸 United States2.8
St. Louis, MO-IL🇺🇸 United States2.8
Hartford, CT🇺🇸 United States2.9
Indianapolis. IN🇺🇸 United States2.9
Tulsa, OK🇺🇸 United States3.0

Keep in mind, these figures are from Q3’2019. Considering the pandemic-induced suburban shuffle that’s been going on in some of America’s major housing markets, this list could look a bit different in Demographia’s next report.

>>Like this? Then you might like this article on The 10 Most Expensive Cities in the World

Where does this data come from?

Source: Demographia
Details: Affordability score is calculated by taking a city’s median housing price and dividing it by the median household income. Anything over 5.1 is considered severely unaffordable
Notes: Data includes 309 metropolitan markets across eight countries, including Australia, Canada, the U.K., and the U.S., as of the third quarter of 2019

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Datastream

Tax-to-GDP Ratio: Comparing Tax Systems Around the World

Using the tax-to-GDP ratio, we compare the tax systems of 35 OECD countries. See which nations have the highest and lowest rates.

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The Briefing

  • The tax-to-GDP ratio measures a country’s tax revenue, relative to the size of its economy (measured by its Gross Domestic Product, or GDP)
  • A higher tax-to-GDP ratio means more money is going to government coffers, and in theory, public services like education and infrastructure
  • Out of 35 OECD countries, Denmark has the highest tax-to-GDP ratio at 46.3%, while Mexico ranks last at 16.5%

Tax-to-GDP Ratio: Comparing Tax Systems Around the World

Taxes are an important source of revenue for most countries. In fact, taxes provide around 50% or more of government funds in almost every country in the world.

How does each country’s tax system compare to one another? This question is tricky to answer. Since countries’ populations and economies differ greatly, measuring total tax revenue is not the best way to compare international tax systems.

Instead, using a tax-to-GDP ratio is one of the more useful ways to compare tax systems around the world.

What is the Tax-to-GDP Ratio?

The tax-to-GDP ratio compares a country’s tax revenue to the size of its economy, which in this case is measured by its GDP.

The higher the ratio, the higher the proportion of money that goes to government coffers. If managed effectively, this can support the long-term health and prosperity of an economy. According to research conducted by the International Monetary Fund, countries should have a tax-to-GDP ratio of at least 12% in order to experience accelerated economic growth.

The countries that are part of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) all meet that threshold, with an average tax-to-GDP ratio of 33.8%.

Ranked: The Tax-to-GDP Ratios of OECD countries

The dataset used for this graphic looks at 35 of the 37 OECD countries, since recent data for Australia and Japan was not available.

RankCountryTax Revenue as % of GDP
1🇩🇰 Denmark46.3%
2🇫🇷 France45.4%
3🇧🇪 Belgium42.9%
4🇸🇪 Sweden42.9%
5🇦🇹 Austria42.4%
6🇮🇹 Italy42.4%
7🇫🇮 Finland42.2%
8🇳🇴 Norway39.9%
9🇳🇱 Netherlands39.3%
10🇱🇺 Luxembourg39.2%
11🇩🇪 Germany38.8%
12🇬🇷 Greece38.7%
13🇸🇮 Slovenia37.7%
14🇮🇸 Iceland36.1%
15🇭🇺 Hungary35.8%
16🇵🇱 Poland35.4%
17🇨🇿 Czech Republic34.9%
18🇵🇹 Portugal34.8%
19🇸🇰 Slovak Republic34.7%
20🇪🇸 Spain34.6%
21🇨🇦 Canada33.5%
22🇪🇪 Estonia33.1%
23🇬🇧 United Kingdom33.0%
24🇳🇿 New Zealand32.3%
25🇱🇻 Latvia31.2%
26🇮🇱 Israel30.5%
27🇱🇹 Lithuania30.3%
28🇨🇭 Switzerland28.5%
29🇰🇷 South Korea27.4%
30🇺🇸 United States24.5%
31🇹🇷 Turkey23.1%
32🇮🇪 Ireland22.7%
33🇨🇱 Chile20.7%
34🇨🇴 Colombia19.7%
35🇲🇽 Mexico16.5%
OECD Average33.8%

At 46.3%, Denmark has the highest ratio on the list. The country puts its relatively high tax revenue to use, particularly when it comes to subsidizing post-secondary education—in Denmark, university is free for all EU citizens.

On the less-taxed end of the spectrum, the U.S. ranks 30 out of 35, with a ratio of 24.5%—that’s notably lower than the OECD average of 33.8%. It’s also worth mentioning that the U.S. has one of the highest GDP per capita measures out of all OECD countries.

Where does America’s tax revenue come from? It gains most of its revenue from the personal income tax. In fact, 41% of the country’s total tax revenue comes from taxes on personal income, as well as individual profits and gains—for context, the OECD average is 24%.

With President Biden’s recent announcement to increase corporate taxes and personal investment gains, America’s ratio could look a lot different in the near future.

>>Like this? You might find this article interesting, Unequal State Tax Burdens Across America

Where does this data come from?

Source: OECD
Details: This source uses 2019 provisional data to calculate each country’s tax-to-GDP ratio. For more information on methodology, read the full report by clicking here.

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Datastream

1.6 Billion Disposable Masks Entered Our Oceans in 2020

1.6 billion face masks entered our oceans in 2020, representing 5,500 tons of plastic pollution.

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The Briefing

  • 52 billion disposable face masks were produced in 2020 (this includes N95 respirators and surgical masks)
  • It’s estimated that 1.6 billion of these masks ended up in our oceans
  • This equates to roughly 5,500 tons of plastic pollution

Demand for Disposable Masks Skyrockets in 2020

Following the World Health Organization’s formal declaration of the COVID-19 pandemic, governments around the world quickly mandated the use of face masks in public spaces.

This led to a massive demand shock, prompting factories to begin producing disposable masks at full capacity. The majority of these masks were produced in China, and in April 2020, the country reported a staggering daily production figure of 450 million masks.

Plastic Pollution: A Lesser Known Side Effect

In Ocean Asia’s 2020 report, Masks on the Beach, researchers developed a formula to provide reasonable estimates for the number of disposable masks entering the environment.

Given an annual production figure of 52 billion disposable masks and a loss rate of 3% (the percentage of masks that escape water management systems), the team concluded that nearly 1.6 billion face masks wound up in our oceans in 2020. This amounts to approximately 5,500 tons of plastic pollution.

These masks are commonly made of polypropylene, which easily breaks up into microplastics. While the effects of microplastics on human health are not yet determined, these fragments are incredibly common in our water supply—for example, 94% of U.S. tap water is deemed to be contaminated.

Disposable Doesn’t Mean They’re Gone

Despite their single-use nature, disposable masks are expected to take more than four centuries to decompose while in the ocean. Here’s how this compares to other items we use on a day-to-day basis.

ItemYears Needed to Biodegrade
Disposable masks450
Disposable diaper450
Plastic bottle450
Aluminum can200
Styrofoam cup50
Plastic grocery bag20
Cigarette butt10

The pandemic has extended well into 2021, and the number of disposable masks polluting our oceans is likely to continue growing.

With this in mind, various companies and organizations are beginning to search for a solution. One noteworthy example is Plaxtil, which is developing a method for recycling surgical masks so that the raw materials can be used for other products.

»Like this? Then you might enjoy this infographic on the flow of plastic waste.

Where does this data come from?

Source: Oceans Asia, Statista, Plastic Collectors

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