Yves here. I wonder if the problem of women finding it harder to pay off student debt is compounded by reduced marriage prospects. People under budget stress can’t spend as much money going out or on the personal maintenance that helps in making a better appearance. Sad but true: virtually all the women I knew in business school looked markedly more attractive a few years later because they had the money to get better haircuts, more flattering and often better tailored clothes. This sort of superficial stuff matters more in dating, at least for women. And on top of that, a man might shy from marrying an indebted partner, particularly if he wants kids. All sorts of studies show married women are much better off financially on average in the long term than single women. If nothing else, two can live more cheaply than one.
By Lauren Kaori Gurley, a freelance writer and master’s candidate in Latin American studies and journalism at New York University. Her work has been published in In These Times, the American Prospect and the American Journal of Economics and Sociology. Follow her on Twitter: @laurenkgurley. Originally published at Alternet
American women owe nearly twice as much of the nation’s $1.3 trillion in student loan debt as men do, according to a recent study.
Since the 1950s, major strides have been made to shrink the gender gap in enrollment at American colleges and universities, and today, women make up 57 percent of college students in the United States. But despite these gains, women face disproportionate burdens when it comes to student loan debt—a lifelong economic disadvantage that can weigh down graduates for decades after they’ve earned their degrees.
The student loan debt crisis is frequently cited as one of the primary reasons millennials are waiting longer than previous generations to move out of their parents’ homes, have children and get married. According to an American Association of University Women study, women are facing these challenges at higher rates than men.
The reasons behind this discrepancy stem from a number of interrelated factors, including the unremitting gender wage gap. Today, women earn 10 percent less than men when taking into account factors including occupation, experience and education. Women graduating with bachelor’s degrees this year earned on average $17.88 per hour, while men earned $20.87, making it harder for women to repay loans.
Women are also more likely to attend for-profit schools, which are often convenient for working mothers, but less generous with financial aid, and which do not teach skills that lead to upward economic mobility.
“It’s a systemic problem,” Kevin Miller, a researcher at the American Association of University Women, told the Boston Globe.
According to the same study, African-American women with bachelor’s degrees are particularly weighed down with debt, on average facing over $29,000 in student loans.
The average American woman graduating from a four-year college or university carries $21,000 in college debt, about $1,500 more than the average American man.