The next phase of the American Dream should move beyond homeownership

by Ryan Streeter on March 8, 2014. Follow Ryan on Twitter.

Yesterday’s Milken op-ed in the WSJ had some interesting data points showing that tying the American dream to homeownership rather than, say, business ownership hasn’t worked as well as we had hoped:

The median net worth of American adults is now one of the lowest among developed nations—less than $45,000, according to the Credit Suisse Global Wealth Databook. That compares with approximately $220,000 in Australia, $142,000 in France and $54,000 in Greece.

According to the Census Bureau, 65.6% of households owned a home in 1980. More than three decades and trillions of dollars later, the needle hasn’t budged—it’s still about 65%.

[T]he size of the average American house grew by more than half—about 900 additional square feet—over the past three decades while the number of people in the average house decreased.

[M]iddle-class households in 11 Asian nations spend an average 15% of income on supplemental education for their children—nearly as much as the 16% spent on housing and transportation combined. Americans spend only 2% on supplemental education and 50% on housing and transportation.