The Economist has been gathering and publishing national-level house-price statistics since the early 2000s. Before the US sub-prime mortgage crisis began in 2007 The Economist correctly warned of the dangers of an over-heating US housing market and the risks to the wider global economy. It is only since the financial crisis that economists have realised the importance of good and timely house-price data in an effort to spot asset bubbles before they burst.
Our interactive chart of house prices allows users to explore the gyrations in national housing markets for 27 economies—and for 25 American cities—from 1970 to the present date. We offer up four metrics of housing data: nominal and real (inflation-adjusted prices) and two valuation metrics, comparing prices against income and against housing rents.
We expect our interactive to have wide appeal: from individuals wondering how affordability or house-price inflation in their country compares against others, to macroeconomists seeking good data on global housing-market trends.
What makes this project innovative?
The ability to compare housing within different countries and cities allows users to build their own understanding, while comparing, for example, the effect of the housing bubble before and after the financial crisis. Housing is a very hot topic, and having high-quality data in an explorable form is valuable for the public debate.
What was the impact of your project? How did you measure it?
Source and methodology
The data are gathered and cleaned using R scripts which helps to automate much of the fiddly work. This also reduces the chances of introducing errors.
Our library is heavily inspired by ggplot, and works by adding different geometries to a frame. That approach favours a fast iteration cycle while keeping all our styles consistent.