New study: outstanding student loans reduce a woman’s odds of marrying

First, the study, which was published in Demographic Research.



With increasing levels of student loan debt, the path to economic stability may be less smooth than it was for earlier generations of college graduates. This paper explores this emerging trend by assessing whether or not student loan debt influences family formation.


The objective of this study is to examine whether student loan debt delays marriage in young adulthood, whether or not the relationship between student loan debt and marriage differs for women and for men, and if this relationship attenuates during the years immediately after college graduation.

METHODS We estimate a series of discrete-time hazard regression models predicting the odds of first marriage as a function of time-varying student loan debt balance, using a nationally representative sample of bachelor’s degree recipients from the 1993 Baccalaureate and Beyond Longitudinal Study (N = 9,410).

RESULTS We find that the dynamics of loan repayment are related to marriage timing for women, but not for men. Specifically, an increase of $1,000 in student loan debt is associated with a reduction in the odds of first marriage by 2 percent a month among female bachelor degree recipients during the first four years after college graduation. This relationship attenuates over time.

CONCLUSION Our study lends support to the proposition that the financial weight of monthly loan repayments impedes family formation in the years immediately following college graduation – however, only for women. This finding questions traditional models of gender specialization in family formation that emphasize the economic resources of men.

I think that a woman who is serious about studying something that will allow her to get a job related to her field so she can quickly pay off her loans in the first few years is a very good sign of RESPECT for a man, and for his role as primary/sole provider. Men choose tough majors / trades for a reason, and they do tough jobs for a reason. When a woman chooses something hard to study and then chooses a hard job to do to pay off her loans, it’s showing to her man that she respects what he is doing to provide for the family. I think this is something that parents need to encourage young women to do, but so often parents focus too much on spiritual / emotional concerns instead of practical wisdom when leading their kids.

When a woman asks a man to work to pay for the marriage – with all the costs of home, furniture, diapers, tuition, etc. – she is asking him for a commitment to work until he is 65. That is a lot to ask, and it is very hard to accept this from a woman who doesn’t understand the difficulty of earning and saving money.

So what do I recommend to a woman? I recommend she do a STEM degree, pay off her debts, guard her chastity, marry young when she is fertile, have a few years of work to pay off student loans and get used to the workplace, demonstrate ability in apologetics and mentoring others, etc. A wife needs to have a lot more skills than just being pretty and young. There are things she has to do in the marriage – things that take preparation. The more accustomed she is to hard work and self-sacrifice, the easier she will take to her role in the marriage. Women who are used to having to do hard things that they don’t feel like doing make the best wives and mothers. It’s something that a woman can grow into, if she lets herself be challenged to grow.

My friend Amy is fond of telling me that people usually adapt to their friends. So if all your friends are very spiritual and impractical, and they don’t have jobs or savings, then chances are you’ll be like them, too. To get out of debt, don’t take financial advice from people who, in their own lives, show no evidence of knowing what to study, how to find a job, how to save money, and so on. Instead of pushing away the people who “rain on your parade” with wisdom, grab them and keep them close. Watch what they do. Talk to them about your finances. Rely on them to hold you accountable for choosing a good major, updating your resume, and continuously growing your salary, through annual raises or job changes. That’s how you get better.

I don’t say these things in order to make women feel bad, or limit their freedom unnecessarily. I tell women to make good decisions to prepare for marriage, to practice self-denial and self-sacrifice, to choose the right men, to not be scared away by strong providers and men with moral and religious convictions. Although on one level, women can be scared off by men who have firm and definite convictions, they need to understand that these men are the most reliable men to marry. Men who don’t make demands on women usually don’t respond well to demands that women make on them. A strict moral and theological framework can seem scary to a woman – she might feel scared that she could be rejected. But it’s exactly these convictions that ground a man’s ability to keep loving her, to stick with her, and to encourage and support her as she grows.

Instead of being frightened by men who ask her to do good things, she should view it as an asset, not a liability. And the more she listens to his leading and grows, the more independent and capable she will be. She will feel better about doing hard things and playing a role. Better than she would feel about always choosing the easy way and then finding herself without accomplishments. Demanding men can be bad, but not if the demands they make are to build the woman up. The demand that a woman be serious about paying her debts with a real plan might seem scary to some women, but the study shows that this is good advice for her to be more attractive – to any man who might want to marry her.

13 thoughts on “New study: outstanding student loans reduce a woman’s odds of marrying”

  1. “I recommend she do a STEM degree, pay off her debts, etc. etc. etc.” before finally becoming a wife and mother.

    If I were a teenage girl reading that paragraph, I’d just give up and kill myself already.

    I recommend: Long hair in its natural color, minimal makeup, no tattoos, no body mods except the usual ear piercings, and dress modestly. And don’t have “boyfriends” — start looking for a husband as soon as you’re of legal age.

    Learn to cook and play the piano or violin. These skills demonstrate intelligence, diligence, and manual dexterity without compromising your femininity. Anyone can judge cooking and music; in most other fields it takes one to know one.


    1. Yes that’s similar to what I said in terms of hard work, training. But there are several problems:

      – music / cooking do not make money, allowing a woman to be independent as she chooses a man
      – music / cooking do not allow a woman to teach a child math
      – music / cooking do not allow a woman navigate a child through university / grad school
      – music / cooking has no effect on the culture war, but making money allows you to donate to causes

      And many more. It’s vastly inferior to a STEM degree. I think music / cooking first, then STEM degree, is best.


      1. You do not need to be independent; you need to find a husband you can depend on. You do not need to be your child’s math teacher or guidance counselor, and you fight the culture war by being the hand that rocks the cradle.

        Your life plan requires doing many very hard things under a tight deadline. Most women who attempt it are likely to fail and end up lonely cat ladies in depressing dead-end jobs.

        I’m a STEM geek with a 9-yo daughter who passionately hates all things STEM. She loves to read, draw, play music, tame chipmunks, and build papercrafts as long as there’s no math involved. She absolutely adores babies but says she doesn’t want to have any (yeah right).


          1. Educational outcomes are highly correlated to IQ, which is largely genetic. As some of the IQ-influencing genes are on the X chromosome and none are on the Y, boys inherit IQ more from their mothers than their fathers.

            All “studies” have to tiptoe around such facts, because scientists get fired when they question the Progressive faith.


  2. Interesting points of view here. As an older married (30 years) woman and former teacher, I offer these points to give some reassurance to younger females and some support for Dave’s raising of his daughter.

    1. The elimination of a God-existent self-evident natural law foundation has made today’s public school graduate far less knowledgeable than previous generations.

    2. This error has allowed the failure to instill principles of self-government in ALL students…making “will” just a matter of personal choice for each individual as well as in subjects of application.

    3. Self-government includes learning to be self-motivated to be productive in ALL subjects and personal aspects.

    4. A female graduate fully empowered with the qualities of self-government need not pursue the college loan/STEM/hard job route. Self-government is the virtue of a good wife as well as a good model for her children. Such a woman is the CEO of the family. She is efficient, organized, and financially prudent. Such a woman never does harm to her husband and is nurturing to their children.


  3. If a woman can get a STEM degree without racking up student loan debt (and without being led astray by wrong ideas), that would be ideal. But if she can’t get a STEM degree without debt (if, for example, she knows she isn’t good at academics or at math and science in particular or if she would have to take on a lot of debt to attend college), I suggest avoiding college all together and using her talents in other ways to prepare for marriage.

    Such a woman should learn homemaking skills like time-management, cooking, sewing, and childcare. She should also do her best to keep her mind active by reading good books about apologetics, politics, and at least popular level science, and develop good reading comprehension skills and the ability to write well.

    I have a STEM degree (biology), but I don’t necessarily consider a college degree the only or even the best measure of the mind and work ethic of a person.

    I also recognize that few Christian, conservative colleges offer STEM degrees (especially advanced ones), and the ones that do are expensive private universities. Thus, asking a woman to get a STEM degree often involves sending her to a secular university, which many conservative Christian parents are not willing to do with their impressionable and vulnerable young daughters (and for good reason).

    Those who do attend a secular university often haven’t been trained rigorously enough in apologetics and may fall prey to evolutionism or feminism or any number of other wrong worldviews. Christian parents, especially the more conservative ones, have grown leery of sending their children to secular universities because of the high rate at which they fall away from the faith. And many of them just don’t see the risk as necessary when their daughters are planning to be wives and mothers, not career women.

    In general, I would recommend marrying a woman who didn’t go to college and has good homemaking skills, a desire to stay home and raise children, and an active mind over a college graduate who wants a career or who has bought into feminism.


  4. What man, aside from a total broke-ass, would want to marry a woman with a large college debt? And what could a woman do to avoid saddling her husband with this debt when she quits her job to raise his children? I know it’s not Christian to default on debt, but it’s also not Christian to entice teenagers to sign contracts with dubious promises of future riches.

    I suppose they could have an unregistered marriage with all assets in his name and all dunning letters going to her maiden name at her mother’s address, but this scheme would unravel pretty quickly if the man died.


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