Sick of Our Loans: Student Borrowing and the Health of U.S. Young Adults

Katrina M. Walsemann, University of South Carolina
Gilbert C. Gee, University of California, Los Angeles
Danielle Gentile, University of South Carolina

We investigated how college loans are related to health during early adulthood, whether this relationship is stronger among those with less parental wealth or without a college degree, and if this relationship varied by type of college attended (e.g. 2-year versus 4-year). We analyzed data from the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth 1997, a nationally representative sample of young adults, restricting our sample to persons who ever attended college (n=4,643). Multivariate regression tested the association between college loans and self-rated health and psychological functioning in 2010, adjusting for a robust set of socio-demographic indicators. Student loans were associated with poorer self-rated health and psychological functioning. This association varied by level of parental wealth, but not degree attainment or type of college attended. Our study raises provocative questions for further research regarding student loan debt and the possible spillover effects on other life circumstances, such as occupational trajectories and health inequities

  See paper

Presented in Session 74: Education, Health, and Mortality: Pathways and Mechanisms.