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For Debt-Laden Young Adults, Reality Bites At 28

While young adults may feel empowered by debt, they start to feel weighed down by it when they reach 28, according to a new study. The more credit-card and college loan debt shouldered by those aged 18 to 27, the more they felt in control of their lives, according to an Ohio State University study.


Rachel Dwyer, lead author of the study and assistant professor of sociology at Ohio State University, says of her rather disturbing findings, “Debt can be a good thing for young people — it can help them achieve goals that they couldn’t otherwise, like a college education.”

The study examined two kinds of debt: credit card and college debt. “Surprisingly, though, we found that both kinds of debt had positive effects for young people,” Dwyer says. “It didn’t matter the type of debt, it increased their self-esteem and sense of mastery.”

She offers this explanation: Young people may see all kinds of debt as a positive investment as they may use credit card debt to pay for their college text books. “Along with education spending, they could be using credit cards to pay for non-essential items,” Dwyer adds.

The more surprising (and scary) aspect of this study, which involved 3,079 young adults: By 28, young people are aware that they overestimated how much money they were going to earn. “When they took out the loans, they may have thought they would pay off their debts easily, and it is turning out that it is not as easy as they had hoped, ” Dwyer says.

To quote from “Friends,” the sitcom that defined a generation of twenty-somethings: “Welcome to the real world. It sucks.”

Do you think this study represents young adults?


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