By Stephen Gordon - Monday, December 3, 2012 - 0 Comments
One of the more worrying aspects of population aging is its effect on the prices of assets that many people are counting on to support them in retirement. For example, many Canadians may be planning to sell their house when they retire, buy a less-expensive condo and deposit the difference. The problem is that if a large wave of people retire and execute this strategy at the same time, the flood of new supply on the housing market will depress prices, thus reducing the value of the housing assets that were supposed to finance their retirements.
The run-up in housing prices over the past decade has attracted a lot of attention in this regard and led to worries that Canadian households’ balance sheets might be over-weighted on housing. But it turns out that much of the surge in the 2000s can be seen as a recovery from what was a very dismal market in the 1990s (see also this WCI post). Housing’s share of household assets did increase sharply during the 2000s, but this ratio still hasn’t recovered pre-1990 levels and remains below what it was in the 1970s. (Data are taken from Cansim Table 378-0051.)