The Effect of Student Debt on Job Outcomes and Social Mobility

Awarded Scholars:
Adam T. Jørring, Boston College
Project Date:
Dec 2019
Award Amount:
Project Programs:
Social, Political, and Economic Inequality

What are the effects of student debt on labor market outcomes? Outstanding student debt increased from $260 billion in 2004 to $1.46 trillion in 2019 (Federal Reserve Bank of New York, 2019) and generated a debate among policymakers, advocacy groups, and academics over the effects and consequences of student debt. However, an empirical investigation of this question has been complicated by data limitations and empirical challenges. Economist Adam Jørring, in collaboration with Menaka Hampole, will merge professional resumes from a large social network database and credit bureau records to examine the effects of student debt on individual labor market outcomes, including subsequent career outcomes (job type, entrepreneurship, occupational skills, and job location) and credit and debt. He will use the introduction of No Loan Policies (NLPs) at 85 higher education institutions between 1998 and 2018 as an instrument to estimate the effects of student debt on labor market outcomes. The study will focus on students from four-year institutions. The sample includes highly selective private universities, such as Stanford, Yale, and Princeton, and public universities, such as Appalachian State, Colorado State, and University of Toledo. 



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