New study: 1 in 8 divorces is caused by student loan debt

I like to make plans in advance and calculate everything out before I try to do anything. This is the curse of being a software engineer. We’re taught to take a test-first approach to design. So, when I think about marriage, I naturally think about what tests marriage is supposed to pass, and work backwards from there to requirements for each of the spouses.

Here’s some research from CNBC that might help young people to avoid a divorce, if they respect the research in their choices.

Excerpt:

When it comes to student loan debt, “for richer, for poorer” doesn’t quite cut it.

In general, finances are the leading cause of stress in a relationship, according to a study by SunTrust Bank, but student debt takes a particularly hard toll on a marriage.

More than a third of borrowers said college loans and other money factors contributed to their divorce, according to a recent report from Student Loan Hero, a website for managing education debt.

In fact, 13 percent of divorcees blame student loans specifically for ending their relationship, the report found. Student Loan Hero surveyed more than 800 divorced adults in June.

I think in general, you can’t just do whatever you want before marrying and jump into it unprepared. Marriage involves specific requirements in order to work, such as being faithful to your spouse, and buying things that you need for the marriage enterprise, like a home, and baby stuff. It doesn’t make any sense to say “I want to get married” and then not prepare for marriage by being careful about preparing for the behaviors marriage that requires of you. Being debt-free is one of those behaviors that marriage requires of you.

So how can we be debt-free, so that the marriage will be stable? Well, one way to be debt-free is to find a way to learn skills that will allow you to get a job without going to college, like being a self-taught software engineer. One of my friends actually did that, and now he’s with a very good software company as a remote worker. But if you’re going to go to college, you can avoid debt by studying something that will get you a high-paying job when you graduate.

This 2017 article from Harvard Business Review is interesting.

It says:

Examining 46,934 resumes shared on Glassdoor by people who graduated between 2010 and 2017, the researchers looked at each person’s college major and their post-college jobs in the five years after graduation. They then estimated the median pay for each of those jobs (also using Glassdoor data) for employees with five years of experience or less. Their key finding: “Many college majors that lead to high-paying roles in tech and engineering are male dominated, while majors that lead to lower-paying roles in social sciences and liberal arts tend to be female dominated, placing men in higher-paying career pathways, on average.”

Here’s the plot, and you can click it to expand it:

Starting salaries by major, broken out by gender
Median salaries by major, broken out by gender – don’t study things at the bottom!

As you can see from the graph, it’s especially important to share the message about choosing a major, salaries and student loan debt with WOMEN, because as the graph shows, they tend to choose the wrong majors, if the goal is to pay off student loans and avoid divorce. Everyone who wants marriage to go smoothly needs to choose majors that are near the top of the graph, like nursing, chemical engineering, computer science, or mechanical engineering. It doesn’t make sense to go to college if you aren’t going to graduate in one of these high-paying fields.

As you might expect from the graph, women hold the majority of student loan debt, according to the Boston Globe, and that’s because women tend to choose majors that don’t result in good-paying jobs. And we already saw how this becomes a risk factor for divorce.

Student loans delay marriage and children

Another interesting piece of data, reported by The Consumerist, is that people with student loans tend to delay marriage, which means the couple has fewer children:

As consumers navigate life’s financial journey, they are faced with major financial milestones, like buying a home. But student loans are also delaying consumers from reaching these goals.

Survey respondents report delaying homeownership (23 percent), buying or leasing a car (23 percent), having children (10 percent) and getting married (9 percent) because of their student loan burdens.

So, it’s not just that there is an increased risk of divorce from student loans, but there’s also fewer children, which means a diminished legacy. I can’t speak for how others would see this, but for myself, I want to pass on my beliefs to as many effective, influential Christian children as I can.

Anyway, I feel obligated to post a relevant Dave Ramsey video, just to remind everyone that stewardship of money is a Christian virtue, and that being forgiven by Jesus for your sins doesn’t automatically make you good with money. It takes planning and stewardship.

This one from 2014: (H/T Robb)

When I was in high school, I was far more interested in becoming an English teacher than I was in becoming a software engineer. It was my Dad who overruled my choice of college major when I was still in high school. He had me take a first-year English course at a local university. When I saw how politicized and useless it was (they were studying all sorts of politically correct postmodern relativist stuff, instead of the Great Works, and they weren’t trying to learn any wisdom from any of it), I chose computer science. I did what was likely to avoid divorce, and likely to support having many children.

9 thoughts on “New study: 1 in 8 divorces is caused by student loan debt”

  1. Men want debt free virgins with no tattoos for marriage.

    The statement produced a lot of wailing and gnashing of teeth…but it’s true. The biggest thing is stability of marriage both for the spouses but especially for any children they have.

    I’d also add keep contraception out of the marriage because it undermines both the unitive and procreative aspects of the marital act. I truthfully think that is the root of a lot of divorces however things like student debt or ‘irreconciliable differences’ are what is overtly said.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I think the people who don’t like it just think marriage as narcissism. I.e. someone else will make me happy, and I’ll just do what I feel like. These people must be avoided as marriage candidates, because marriage is not easy, and marrying a lazy, impractical person leads to divorce.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Yes-great advice! I’m a nurse with no debt (paid off in a year, and received grants/scholarships).
    If any women are reading this-seriously consider nursing, and if possible, live with your parents after graduation. Spend below/within your means. It can be done! I married at 30, and had a generous savings account by then.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. That skills set is SO PRACTICAL for raising a family. Flexible hours if you have to work, and you have so much useful knowledge. Science background helps when teaching children. And I’m sure husband finds you easier to reason with than an artist would be. And you’ll be more practical, just because you know how the real world works. I love nursing for marriage prep!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. It sure is! I absolutely love the flexibility, and the skill set is truly invaluable-I’ve helped so many friends and family members with aging parents and ill children navigate the healthcare system. I am a bit of a science/health nerd! My husband sure isn’t complaining! Thank you for the kind response.

        Liked by 1 person

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