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Stocks Up, Gold Down in Americans' Best Investment Ratings

Stocks Up, Gold Down in Americans' Best Investment Ratings

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Americans continue to rank real estate as the best investment for the long term among six options. Thirty-six percent choose real estate, followed by stocks or mutual funds (22%), gold (18%), and savings accounts or CDs (13%). Relatively few Americans believe bonds (4%) or cryptocurrency (3%) are the best long-term investments.

The percentage of adults choosing real estate is similar to a year ago, but more identify stocks and fewer name gold as the best investment this year. Stocks were last higher than now in 2021, when 26% chose them, while gold has returned to more typical levels after an increase last year.


The latest results are based on Gallup’s annual Economy and Personal Finance survey, conducted April 1-22. Since 2011, Gallup has asked Americans to choose among real estate, stocks, gold, savings accounts and bonds as the best investment. Cryptocurrency was added as an option in 2022.

Real estate has topped the list each year since 2014, with between 30% and 45% (in 2022) selecting it. In 2013, real estate essentially tied for first with gold and stocks; it trailed gold in 2011 and 2012.

Americans’ historical tendency to choose real estate as the best long-term investment is consistent with their usual expectations of rising local home values.

Earlier surveys conducted between 2002 and 2010 that did not include gold as an option typically found real estate or stocks as the top choice. However, several 2008-2010 surveys showed savings accounts finishing first or tied for first. Those Great Recession-era polls were conducted at a time when housing and stock values suffered deep losses, making the security of savings accounts seem attractive for investors.

The recent performance of real estate and stocks likely explains their high position on the list this year. U.S. real estate values are down from the record high in the fourth quarter of 2022, when the median home sale price was $479,500. However, they remain well above the average values from early 2021 and before. Stock values also reached new highs this year, according to the major U.S. stock indices.

Upper- and Lower-Income Adults Diverge on Value of Stocks, Savings Accounts

Americans at all income levels perceive real estate as a better investment than other options. However, people from different income groups disagree on the value of other investments, most notably stocks and savings accounts.

Whereas 31% of upper-income Americans say stocks are the best investment, 14% of lower-income Americans agree. Lower-income Americans are more likely to pick gold (23%) or savings accounts (20%) than stocks. Just 7% of upper-income Americans believe savings accounts are the best choice for investors.


Beyond variations among income groups, there is a consistent political party difference in perceptions of gold’s value. Currently, 27% of Republicans pick gold as the best investment, compared with 7% of Democrats and 18% of independents. Last year, a trend-high 38% of Republicans named gold, compared with 12% of Democrats and 27% of independents.

In each year of the trend except 2013, Republicans have been significantly more likely than Democrats to say gold is the best investment. However, the gap between Republicans and Democrats has widened significantly since 2020.

During the past five years, Republicans have also diverged from independents in views of gold. Between 2012 and 2019, Republicans and independents were about equally likely to choose gold as the best investment.


Members of almost every key subgroup are more likely now than a year ago to say stocks are the best investment and less likely to say gold is. The major exception to these patterns is found among Americans aged 55 and older, whose opinions are unchanged from a year ago.

Stock Ownership Holding at Higher Level

Gallup’s annual update finds that 62% of U.S. adults have money invested in the stock market, including individual stocks, a stock mutual fund or a retirement savings account. The figure is essentially unchanged from last year but reflects a return to stock ownership levels not seen since the Great Recession in 2008.


Stock ownership is highly correlated with income. The vast majority (87%) of upper-income Americans, those with annual household incomes of $100,000 or more, own stock. That compares with 25% of lower-income Americans (those whose annual incomes are less than $40,000). About two-thirds of middle-income Americans, 65%, own stock.

Bottom Line

For most of the past two decades, real estate values have grown, and those increases were especially large between 2021 and 2022. As such, it is not surprising that Americans have consistently believed real estate is the best long-term investment, even though other sources, particularly stocks, have also shown steady growth over time.

Stock values reached record levels earlier this year, and those higher values help explain why more Americans than a year ago think stocks should be the top choice for investors. The increase has come mainly at the expense of gold, which briefly was the top pick in 2011 and 2012 when real estate and stocks weren't performing as well as now.

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