Women With High Student Loan Debt Less Likely to Marry

shutterstock_97733735You already knew that your student loans were ruining your plans to own and operate your own rooftop apiary but new research suggests that your excessive debt may also be the reason why you can’t get someone to put a ring on it. Stopping “Jessica Alba’s Honey*” before it started was one thing, student loans, but messing with my love life? That’s a new low.

University of Wisconsin fellow Fenaba Addo studied the effects of education loan debt and credit card debt on the relationship statuses of college graduates and her findings are one giant “womp womp” for the ladies: women with student loans are less likely to marry than female friends who graduated debt-free; men are immune to this affect, their probability of marriage remaining constant despite fluctuations in debt. Those least likely to marry are women “whose credit debt exceeds their predicted earnings.” In fact, a woman’s probability  of marrying falls 4.9 percent for every 1-percentage-point increase in student loan and credit card debt. But debt has one unbiased affect: student loans appear to increase the likelihood of non-marital cohabitation, regardless of gender.

While Addo recognizes that some women may be opting-out of the “marriage market”, waiting for their financials to be in order before settling down, she believes her findings reflect the average man’s hesitancy to take on the burden of another’s loans. More often than not, men are the ones proposing marriage; they are able to be more selective, therefore leaving debt-carrying women in the dating pool. Since cohabitation is cheaper than living alone and requires less financial commitment than marriage, it should be no surprise that more couples are choosing to live together.

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    • Lastango

      I first read of this a few years ago, when a woman said she her fiance broke up with her when he learned she had $250k in student debt. He told her she had been concealing this from him.

      It seems logical that one key is the amount of debt relative to earning potential. That’s another argument against the negative value of crap degrees.

      BTW, it would be interesting to see the problem broken down by age groups. I’d guess that students completing advanced degrees have the highest debt levels because they’ve been in school and out of the fully-committed workforce longer. However, that also means these students are older — and older women (the ones past 30, and especially 35) are reportedly having a very tough time in the dating market. So, some are probably single mainly because they’re not as appealing as mates, not because they’ve got a big debt load.

      Consider this bit:

      ”’I can’t believe how many men my age are only interested in younger women,’ wails Gail, a 34-year-old advertising executive as she describes her first search through men’s profiles on the RSVP internet dating site. She is shocked to find many mid-30s men have set up their profiles to refuse mail from women their own age.”


      That article happens to be about Australia, but some of the stats might be more relevant that US data to the experience of white non-hispanic women in North America. That’s because overall US data on singleness-related issues is skewed by our big underclass. In Australia, there apparently is no comparable underclass, so the overall population may resemble our white non-hispanic cohort.

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