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Why the Number of US Homeowners Grew During COVID-19

Source: Pew Research Center

The number of homeowners in the United States grew by 2 million over the last year, reflecting a 2.6% increase. This is the seventh-largest percentage increase in homeowners since 1965, according to Pew Research Center. By the fourth quarter of 2020, there were around 83 million owner-occupied homes in the U.S.

This growth in homeownership, Pew Research Center states, resulted from economic growth and an increasing number of households over time. Although the unemployment rate during COVID-19 skyrocketed, job losses fell heavily on young adults and low-income workers, who are less likely to be potential homebuyers. In 2020, interest rates were at record lows, there was a slowdown in foreclosures and household incomes were at a high before the pandemic — all factors made it easier to enter the housing market. Experts predict that the housing market will remain strong in 2021, driven by low mortgage rates, the vaccine distribution and growing consumer confidence

The Countries Where the Pandemic Has Lowered the Cost of Living

Note: Index shows estimated average expenses for a four-person family. The Rent Index estimates for renting one- and three-bedroom apartments in and outside of the city center.

Turkey, Colombia and Costa Rica are the top OECD countries that saw the biggest drops in cost of living between 2019 to 2021, according to BRINK analysis of numbers provided by online quality-of-life database Numbeo. 

While this may seem like a good thing, all three countries have struggling economies, which may explain the lower cost of living. Turkey is battling inflation and a weak currency, Colombia has crime and oil crises and Costa Rica is struggling with an impact on tourism.

Among the top 10 countries with higher index scores, South Korea, Germany and the United States have seen their rankings fall throughout the past 18 months. These are examples of countries that have done well economically throughout the pandemic. South Korea has seen exports rise 16.7% in 2021; Germany’s economy is forecasted to grow 3.1% this year; and the United States’ economy has shown relative resilience throughout the pandemic.

Insurer Premiums Are Aligning to Net-Zero Targets

Several major insurers and reinsurers are committing to transitioning their underwriting portfolios to net-zero by 2050, as part of the newly formed Net-Zero Insurance Alliance (NZIA). 

Launched in July 2021, NZIA includes eight institutions with over $400 billion in gross written insurance premiums and $130 billion in gross written reinsurance premiums. These figures account for 22% and 59% of global gross written insurance and reinsurance premiums among listed carriers, respectively. 

The reinsurance sector is highly concentrated. Consequently, net-zero commitments among a small number of the largest reinsurers place the reinsurance sector some way ahead of the insurance sector. In turn, this is expected to increase pressure on insurers to align their underwriting portfolios with net-zero. Over time, those that do not may find it harder to cede risks to net-zero-aligned reinsurers. 

How the Pandemic Affected the Non-Insured Population

Rates for those without health insurance in the U.S. remained relatively stable in 2020, according to data from the Census Bureau, analyzed by the Kaiser Family Foundation. Results show that 10.2%, or 27.4 million nonelderly people, were uninsured throughout 2020, a 400,000 increase from 2018.

The uninsured rate among nonelderly non-Hispanic Black people increased from 10.5% in 2018 to 11.7% in 2020, while the rate for Asian people decreased from 7.7% in 2018 to 6.4% in 2020. Although a majority of those insured were covered by their employer’s insurance, the 41.3% that weren’t shows a need for personalized health care plans.

Eugene Sayan, founder of Softheon, a cloud-based health insurance exchange and service provider, predicts a sea change in health care. “There’s a great opportunity to break down this macroeconomy around health care under the pillars of Medicaid, Medicare, the marketplace and commercial,” says Sayan. “What we’re going to start to see is consumers, individuals, empowerment taking so many different shapes.”

What Are the Biggest Upcoming Risks for Organizations?

Changes in consumer demand and cyberattacks are the two biggest risks organizations expect to face in the next two years, according to polls undertaken by Marsh McLennan. Other notable risks include workforce and industry disruptions, as well as challenges associated with international trade.

The poll results also show that the risk outlook of businesses is heavily influenced by their sector. For example, financial sector companies highlighted digital risks — stemming from new technology adoption and cyberattacks — while industrial sector firms were most concerned about international trade.

Today’s dynamic global risk environment necessitates that organizations proactively navigate upcoming risks. Those that manage to do so will emerge more resilient and agile in the face of future disruptions.

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