Women With High Student Loan Debt Less Likely to Marry
3:30 pm, February 20th | by Colette McIntyre
You 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.
Addo’s research reaffirms the findings of economic forecasting firm IHS Global Insight’s 2012 report: as student loan debts have increased — surpassing the $1 trillion mark in the fourth quarter of 2011 — the average age of first marriages has also increased. As Chris Christopher, a senior economist at IHS Global Insight, explained to Bloomberg Businessweek, “Student loans are concentrated among young people — a particular group that may be prone to buy a new house, a new car and get married. They are not spread out among all age cohorts in the economy.”
While other forms of debt have been decreasing since 2007, the tide of student loan debt continues to rise, growing both in the number of borrowers and the size of the loans. So don’t worry; there will always be a new crop of debt-burdened female graduates to replenish our unmarriable ranks, each with nothing but bottles of YellowTail and letters from Sallie Mae to keep her warm.
*Jessica Alba’s Honey is not affiliated with or endorsed by Jessica Alba. But if Jessica Alba is reading this — girl, call me! I got big plans. Hip Hop Sweeteners 2013!