I am very often asked how investing in stocks compares with investing in property (aka “real estate”) as far as long-term investment returns. Many of us who’ve been in the market for a few decades have seen rents and property prices in many cities double, triple, or more, while I hear far more mixed experiences between those whose retirement accounts are mostly due to stock market gains vs those who have never made money in stocks.
The most recent update I’ve seen on this is this Harvard paper, comparing returns across different asset classes and countries from 1870-2015. Like many academic papers, I fault it for being too long (174 pages), too technical (even for me), too focused on averages over distributions, and not clear enough on how investors could actually use this information. This book does reference Piketty’s controversial Capital in the 21st Century, elaborating on the R vs G (returns on investment vs growth rate) math which I don’t believe Piketty quite got right.
Some of my favorite books on long term stock returns still include:
- Triumph of the Optimists: 101 Years of Global Investment Returns
- Stocks for the Long Run 5/E: The Definitive Guide to Financial Market Returns & Long-Term Investment Strategies
- … and of course, my own book.
If you are interested in how stocks vs property have performed over long periods of time, you may also want to review some of these earlier posts:
- Stocks vs Property: 48 years of BIS data on 10 countries
- How stocks rose 7x more than real estate, over 125 years of Yale data
- 13 Thought Provoking Charts from the “Stocks For The Long Run” book
- How investments have performed over recessions
- 10 recent years’ performance of three simple stock vs bond allocations
As always, keen to hear from you and your thoughts on long term investment returns.