May 9, 2006

Affordable Family Formation and college debt

A reader writes:

I've read your articles about the political impact of family formation costs with interest.

Last Sunday, 60 Minutes had a piece about the rising number of people who begin their adult lives with enormous student loan debt. It occurred to me that, for those living with the problem, this is probably as significant an obstacle to family formation as any, and thus would have a leftward influence on the student-debtor population.

This may help explain another political trend that’s been taking place over the past 20 years or so. Forgive me for not having the statistics handy, but I’ve read that political conservatism used to be significantly, positively correlated with education and that this is no longer the case. Could it be that it isn’t having acquired a college education that makes those with more schooling veer leftward; it’s that paying for it keeps those people from starting families sooner? Add to this the fact that net debtors of all types have historically been sympathetic to the left, and it’s possible that student debt could be quite significant in shaping political leanings.

It’s easy to make too much of such things, but there might be something there.

Can anybody think of a data source to check this hypothesis?

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

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