I recently presented research at the 23rd Society for Social Work and Research Conference in San Francisco. With Tim Ottusch and Katie Cherney, we analyzed the increase in student loan debt over time and the relationship with financial insecurity, defined as negative net worth (total assets > total debts). The focus was on young adults age 25-45. Additionally, we considered 3 counterfactual scenarios: (1) financial insecurity under conditions of zero student debt, (2) financial insecurity under student debt levels held constant at 1995 levels, (3) financial insecurity in 2016 under student debt levels held by Canadians. Below is one of the main figures. On the vertical axis is rate of financial insecurity (negative net worth) over time (x axis). The black line displays the observed increase over time. The orange line is the counterfactual scenario of what financial insecurity would be if student loans were eliminated, with other components of net worth left unchanged. The takeaway is the student loan debt explains much more of financial insecurity today than they did twenty years ago.
See full slides here.
This was part of a symposium I analyzed Financial Well-Being across the Life Course.