Asians spend 7.5x on education but 1/3x on housing vs Americans? From a 2015 Milken interview

One of my favorite things to listen to in the background are interviews with influencers that occasionally say something to get me thinking about something I might not otherwise have thought of.  Today I happened to be listening to a 2015 interview of Michael Milken with ASU Professor Jeff Cunningham.

Among other things, I was surprised to hear the following statistics:

  • Asian consumers spend 1/3 as much of their expenses on housing as Americans do
  • Asian consumers spend 7.5x as much of their budgets on supplemental education as Americans do (Michael Milken’s example is the English language tutors Chinese students go to after their day in their local Chinese schools)
  • Half of American consumer spending is on houses and cars, while only 16% of Asian consumer spending is

I haven’t checked the source or methodology of these statistics, but the food vs. housing numbers are probably not typical of most residents of cities like Hong Kong, and the 11% Americans put to insurance and pensions was not balanced by the large private savings rates in many Asian countries, large shares of which are “invested” in insurance policies (a habit I critique in this post).  Here is the stats slide:


… and here is the whole video: