*Allan Carlson holds his Ph.D. in Modern
European History from The Ohio University. He serves as President of The Howard
Center for Family, Religion & Society in Rockford, IL and as Visiting
Distinguished Professor of Political Science and History at Hillsdale College in
Michigan. His books include The ‘American Way’: Family and Community in the
Shaping of the American Identity (ISI Books). This essay is adapted from a
report originally prepared for The Partnership to Reduce the Burden of Student
Debt, a project funded by the Pew Foundation. The views presented here are the
The Federal Guaranteed Student Loan program
represents an almost pure example of the “law of unintended consequences” in
public policy. Initiated in the mid-1970’s as a modest supplement to
means-tested federal [later, Pell] grants, it has grown into a massive program
involving a majority of students at both the undergraduate and graduate levels.
Supplemental private loans have multiplied the turn toward debt-funded higher
education. According to the Nellie Mae Corporation’s most recent National Student
Loan Survey, average undergraduate student loan debt in 2002 was $18,900, up
66 percent since 1997 (the median debt figure rose 74 percent from that latter
year, to $16,500). Both figures are surely higher today. Students
attending graduate schools reported an additional $31,700 in
average debt, an increase of 51 percent since 1997. Graduates from professional
schools, notably law and medicine, carried an average of $91,000 in accumulated
total debt. Overall, $61.7 billion was loaned in 2006-07 alone, an increase of
250 percent since 1992-93.
Students graduating from colleges and universities
during the last quarter century represent the first generation of Americans to
finance a significant portion of their higher education through interest-bearing
debt. Indeed, “they may be the most indebted generation of young Americans
ever,” with the average indebted adult, ages 25-34, spending nearly 25 percent
of income on debt service of all types.
While referring to a related situation in New Zealand, a student-backed report
captures a sentiment also growing in America:
stories [told here] belie the government’s view that student debt will not
impede borrowers’ lives. The fact is that ex-students are struggling
financially and emotionally because they have mortgaged themselves for an
education…that has created a ‘Debt Generation.’
The unanticipated consequences of this method for
funding higher education become especially evident when we consider its effects
on family formation, notably marriage and child-bearing. In cultures around the
world and throughout recorded history, the common practice has been to use
dowries (the property brought by young women into their marriages) and other
marital gifts to provide newlyweds with working capital at the beginning of
their marriage. This cultural strategy has aimed at encouraging marriage,
stable homes, and the birth of children. Until the last few decades, no known
society has ever launched large numbers of young adults on their life course
carrying substantial debt. How is this peculiar experiment working out?
The anecdotal evidence is not encouraging. Dating
behavior may be affected. One 31-year university instructor, bearing $100,000
in student loan debt, reports that when he begins dating a new woman, he “makes
sure” to inform her up front of his financial situation. Predictably, this
discourages second dates.
Marriages are also delayed due to debt. A young woman in Cincinnati, now a
publicist, expects to have her student loans paid off in two years. However,
her boyfriend still owes $40,000 and “he doesn’t feel financially ready for
In addition, the inauguration of childbearing may be delayed. One leading
source of advice to prospective parents counsels that, before having a
child, they “pay off any personal debt they have accumulated over the
years—student loans, car loans and so on.”
On an empirical basis, we know relatively little.
The evidence concerning the effect of any sort of debt on marriage, divorce, and
fertility is meager. Some work suggests that there is no significant influence.
Notably, a National Center for Education Statistics study of 1992/93 bachelor
degree recipients found that about 50 percent of student loan borrowers “were
married or cohabitating as married in 1997,” equal to the 50 percent of
non-borrowers. (However, this conflation of married with cohabiting couples
poses certain interpretive problems, as I will explain later). Other studies
point to a negative correlation between financial stress and family formation
EDUCATION AND FERTILITY
More illuminating, perhaps, are broader findings
regarding the social forces affecting marriage and fertility. Many contemporary
economic, ideological, and legal pressures discourage entry into marriage and
the birth of children. A modern market economy, for example, reduces the
“economic gain” formerly provided by spouse and offspring. It upends the
natural complementarity of husband and wife on the small farm or in the
artisan’s shop, and transforms children from little workers in the family
enterprise into consumption items (economically speaking).
Modern idea systems including liberalism, socialism, and feminism challenge the
“status” presumptions found in the traditional legal constructs of “husband” and
Recent changes in the law, such as the introduction of “no fault” divorce, have
weakened the institutional nature of marriage.
All the same, one of the strongest correlations
found in social science is the negative relationship between education and
fertility. Simply put, the more education that individuals receive, the lower
their predicted lifetime number of children. This correlation holds for
elementary, secondary, and higher education levels and is found in all parts of
And while the negative correlation between educational level and fertility
exists among both men and women, its effects are usually stronger among women.
This is more relevant now that
women have replaced men in the United States (and in most other Western nations,
as well) as the sex most likely to earn a bachelors’ degree.
Other evidence shows growing educational “homogamy,” meaning that men and women
are increasingly likely to marry someone at or very near their own educational
This trend accelerates the retreat from marriage because as women increasingly
dominate higher education, they find a shrinking pool of marriageable men. Even
independent of debt, it seems, education serves as a growing obstacle to
marriage as well as to children.
The demographic theories of Richard Easterlin also
appear relevant. Attempting to explain both the American “baby boom” (1945-64)
and the “baby bust” (1965-80), and ignoring the role of idea systems such as
feminism, Easterlin emphasizes the relation between a couple’s “material
aspirations” (which they develop while growing up) and its economic realities:
couple’s potential earning power is high in relation to aspirations, they will
have an optimistic outlook and will feel freer to marry and have children. If
their outlook is poor relative to aspirations, the couple will feel pessimistic
and, consequently, will be hesitant to marry and have children.
Easterlin argues that “increasing economic stress,” not
introduction of the birth control pill, was the cause of the “baby bust.” He
adds that the unusually rapid rise since 1960 in the proportion of young women
working outside the home “is chiefly due to the decline in the relative income
of young couples.” Following dramatic gains during the 1950’s, the rise in the
real earnings of men slowed during the late 1960’s and actually turned negative
after 1970. In short, exceptionally low fertility occurs because “young persons
are under much greater economic pressure.”
Australian sociologist Natalie Jackson provides a
compelling effort to apply these existing theories to the new problem of student
debt. Although her nation’s student loan program [called the Higher Education
Contribution Scheme or HECS] differs in some ways from the American plan,
the probable impact on family formation mirrors the situation in America. While
emphasizing the “lack of data” on the social effects of student debt, Jackson
underscores the likelihood of “strong antinatalist elements.” After examining
the Australian experience, her “case” concludes:
• That at all ages,
the higher the educational level, the lower the fertility. At the end of their
childbearing years, 20 percent of women with a BA or higher remain childless,
compared to less than 10 percent for those without a university degree.
• The higher her
qualifications, the higher the likelihood of a woman not partnering [that is,
entering neither marriage nor cohabitation];
• Couples where both
partners have a university degree already have the lowest cumulative fertility.
“This pattern is particularly strong for 25-29 year olds, who would have been
the main group thus far to have encountered the HECS.”
university-educated women tend to “partner” with university-educated men, their
combined debt obligation on graduation is likely to be twice as high as
that of an individual; and
theoretical understandings of the inverse association between fertility and
[education]…all lead one to postulate a similar inverse association between
ex-student indebtedness and fertility.”
Beyond theory, what statistics exist regarding the
relation of student debt to family formation? According to the most recent
Nellie Mae National Student Loan Survey (conducted in 2002 and
published the following year), 56 percent of all student borrowers report being
“burdened” by their debt payments. A similar number indicates that, if they
could begin again based on experience, they would borrow less. Among graduate
students, 63 percent feel “very burdened” by their debt payments; among law and
medical school graduates, 75 percent report the same feeling. Forty-two percent
of borrowers in repayment for at least three years say they have experienced
“more hardship than anticipated.”
Notably, family-related behaviors are affected.
Fourteen percent of borrowers report that the “loans delayed marriage,” up from
nine percent in 1987. Twenty-one percent report that they have “delayed having
children because of student loan debt,” up from 12 percent in 1987. Relying on
Nellie Mae surveys, responses over time to these questions have been:
These effects are
particularly strong among low income borrowers, identified here as those also
receiving Pell Grants:
numbers are other reports pointing to, or implying, negative family outcomes.
Another study of Australian student borrowers suggests a delay in transition to
adulthood, evidenced in a growing proportion of 20-29 year olds still living in
their parents homes: rising from 42 percent of persons 20-24 years old in 1986
to 47 percent in 1999; and from 12 percent to 17 percent among 25-29 year olds.
This conclusion parallels earlier work by American researchers which found that
the probability of degree recipients still living with their parents at home was
related to “age, income and debt burden.” Both younger and lower-income persons
were more likely to be living with their parents, as were borrowers paying over
15 percent of their monthly incomes for loan repayments.
The traditional transition from adolescence to adulthood has been marked by
finding a full-time job, leaving one’s childhood home, marrying, purchasing a
new home, and having children. Increasingly, “the achievement of many of these
markers is being delayed, or indeed, not reached at all,” with student loan debt
a significant cause.
There is also some new
evidence suggesting that student loan debt encourages cohabitation, at the
expense of marriage. In a recent study published in Journal of Marriage
and Family, a research team examines the factors affecting decisions
regarding marriage by cohabitors from the working and lower middle classes. The
researchers find that economic issues shape the decision whether or not to
marry; specifically, “cohabitors believe marriage should occur once something
has already changed—in this case, their financial status.” In-depth interviews
with 115 cohabitors produced statements including:
• “I’m still at a
financially unstable point because of ... school loans. And I don’t want to
impose that upon anybody else. Like that’s one of my major things before I get
married. I want to be paid up.” [Andy, a 26-year-old computer technician]
• “[My girlfriend
wants a] big 30, 40 thousand [dollar wedding] and I’m not quite ready for
that…we need to get some more of my student loans paid off and stuff like that
before I can even do that.” [Wesley, a 22-year-old factory supervisor]
Overall, the research team
concludes that cohabitors defer marriage until they meet a package of financial
goals: “Most commonly, this economic package includes home ownership, getting
out of debt, and financial stability (not living from paycheck to paycheck).”
This finding is
echoed in a 2005 report prepared by the Rochester Institute of Technology,
Living With Debts. Author Robert D. Manning reports that nearly half
of the young singles interviewed “indicate that their current debts will
probably delay their plans to start a family.”
Even so, indebted
young people do still marry. Indeed, 67 percent of women and 74 percent of men
now enter marriage with at least some debt, ranging from credit cards and auto
loans to student loans.
There is growing evidence that such debt burden influences the quality of
marriage. In his survey of marital strengths (based on a sample of 21,500
married couples with average ages of 35 for husbands and 32 for wives), David
Olson found that 76 percent of “Happy Couples” agree with the statement “Major
debts are not a problem.” This compared to only 35 percent of “Unhappy
Couples.” Viewed from another angle, 56 percent of “Unhappy Couples” affirm
that “Major debts are a problem for us.” Olson concludes that: “Major debts are
an issue for over half of married couples, and many couples have disagreements
over who should control the money they have.”
University’s Center for Marriage and Family offers a broader and more convincing
national study of the difficulties facing young married couples. It used a
sample of 947 couples who participated in marriage preparation classes between
1995 and 1999. The survey asked respondents to rate 42 issues that “might be
problematic during the early years of marriage,” rating each issue at “the
highest level it is or has been problematic within your marriage.” “Debt
brought into marriage” was one of these, alongside others such as “Balance job
and family,” “Constant bickering,” “Communication with spouse,” “Decision to
have children,” “Frequency of sexual relations,” “Parents or in-laws,” and “Use
of emotional force.” Relative to debt, key findings are:
• Overall, “Debt
brought into marriage” was, out of the list of 42, the third most
problematic issue facing all newlyweds.
respondents who had no children, “Debt brought into marriage” was the
second greatest problem.
• For respondents
ages 29 and below, “Debt brought into marriage” was rated first; i.e., as
the most problematic issue they faced;
married one year or less also reported “Debt brought into marriage” as their
most serious problem.
Can we measure the
effects of student debt on family life more concretely? Perhaps, albeit in
admittedly tentative ways.
As the evidence
outlined above suggests, there is reason to believe that student loan debt
contributes to a declining rate of marriage among young Americans. While found
at all age levels, the fall in the proportion of younger adults who are married
is especially pronounced among women and men, ages 20-24, where the declines
between 1984 and 2003 are, respectively, 41.4 and 45.5 percent. This would be
the group most affected by the burden of undergraduate student loan debt:
in line with the qualitative evidence outlined above, we can trace a dramatic
increase in the number of cohabiting American adults, with debt being a leading
suspect among possible contributing factors:
Some express little concern over
these numbers, viewing cohabitation as simply another form of “partnering,”
largely equivalent to marriage. This optimistic view, however, flies in the
face of mounting evidence regarding the distinctive problems of cohabitating
relationships. One recent study, for example, finds that “the odds of a recent
infidelity were more than twice as high for cohabitors than for married
persons.” Moreover, “living together before marriage raised the net odds of
marital infidelity by 39%.”
Relative to household stability, another study found that “cohabitors have rates
of separation nearly five times as high as married couples” and that “once
cohabiting couples separate, they are far less likely to reconcile.”
Reflecting a similar fragility, a research team at The University of Denver
found a strikingly low level of commitment to each other among cohabitors, when
compared to married couples. This lack of commitment even carried into
subsequent marriage: husbands’ dedication to their wives and level of
satisfaction in marriage were significant lower if cohabiting had preceeded the
New research also confirms that “the risk of experiencing violence is higher for
a woman…living in a defacto rather than a married relationship.”
Indeed, 42 percent of cohabiting women report having experienced “severe
violence” at the hands of a partner, compared to slightly over a quarter of
married and single women (30 and 26 percent respectively).
These negative effects fall on
the children in cohabiting households, as well. Sociologist Susan Brown reports
that child well-being among “two-biological-parent cohabiting families” and
“cohabiting stepfamilies” is no better than that found among “children in
single-mother families.” Indeed, the children of cohabitation suffer from
significantly elevated rates of emotional and behavioral disorders, when
compared to children in married couple homes.
The anti-natalist trend may also be associated, in
part, with rising debt levels and financial stress, including student loans.
One telling ratio highlights the divergent fertility experience of women with
bachelor degrees since 1984, when compared to all women:
Unfortunately, the U.S. Census Bureau stopped reporting these
particular numbers after 1995. All the same, the decline by nearly one-fourth
in the ratio found in the third column suggests that a special anti-natalist
force is now at work among the young college-educated. Among causes, the
evidence points to student loan debt.
Those who crafted the federal loan program saw it as
a way to stimulate investment in education, and so to improve what economists
call “human capital”: the existence, skills, and knowledge of individuals. In
practice, it may be contributing to the postponement of marriage and to
the prevention of the birth of children. Serving, oddly and unintentionally, as
a highly effective form of contraception targeted on the college-educated,
student loans may actually keep stable homes and new “human capital” (e.g.,
babies) from forming.
These negative trends in the private lives of
indebted former students point to another aspect of the problem: the way in
which college and university administrators have used revenues from loans to
avoid fiscal responsibility over the last thirty years. In 1975, revenue
generated from student loans formed less than three percent of all college and
university revenues. Today, this revenue stream constitutes about 20 percent of
all income. During the same three decades, tuition rates at these institutions
routinely rose at two to three times the rate of inflation.
Add these figures together and the reality becomes
clear: college and university administrators have relied on this grand new
revenue stream to avoid fiscal discipline and to increase expenditures for
administrative and faculty salaries and other niceties. In an operational
sense, student loans have proved to be an almost magical source of money: much
like a special line of credit, where the revenues have flowed directly into each
school’s bank account; while repayment becomes the problem of hapless
future graduates. The temptation to join in had to be irresistible.
If the system had worked as promised, as a way of
enhancing “human capital,” all would be well. In practice, though, college and
university administrators share responsibility with federal legislators and
regulators for the familial problems that have emerged.
Over the last several years, a few schools have seen
the light. Endowment-rich institutions such as Harvard and Stanford
Universities have announced an end to the use of student loans. A handful of
small places operate their own loan programs with more flexible terms.
Responding to criticism’s raised by the Pew
Foundation-funded “Partnership to Reduce the Burden of Student Debt,” the U.S.
Department of Education introduced in 2009 a new Income-Based Repayment plan for
student borrowers. For single borrowers making under $50,000, or a married
couple making under $100,00, it would cap payments on federal student loans at
15 percent of discretionary income (for incomes above 150 percent of the poverty
level); leaving a net maximum monthly payment of about 10 percent. Also on the
positive side, the regulations provide some specific relief for debtors with
dependent children, adjusting the monthly payment according to family size: For
example, the maximum monthly payment for a single person earning $50,000 per
year would be $422; coming from a family of five, $141. This helps. Yet
remaining debt would be forgiven only after 25 years (as the former students
approach or enter their 50’s. This mechanism is only available for the
repayment of certain forms of federal loans; the burden of private loans is
Are there better approaches? To begin with, the
time has come to reconsider the implicit national policy of sending as many
young people as possible to college. Not only do too many young adults hold
degrees with little prospect of finding gainful employment. This policy has
also contributed to the broad decline in academic standards and the
transformation of many universities into expensive trade schools. For many
skills, a return to apprenticeship programs, which avoid loans and actually
provide a modest wage, would be a better approach.
We need also acknowledge again that contemporary
social forces other than student loan debt discourage marriage and
fertility, ranging from the incentives of a mature market economy to idea
systems such as neo-Malthusianism which frown on early marriage and relatively
large families. In some cases, there is little that government policy can or
should do about these pressures. However, the anti-marriage and anti-natal
effects of student loan debt are the consequence of poorly conceived public
policy. Accordingly, policy-makers face a special moral imperative here to set
Many additional ideas have been advanced to reduce
the problems: improved debt counseling and life planning education among student
recipients; the phasing out of student loans in favor of enhanced Pell grants;
tax reforms that would make all educational expenses (including payments
on debt principal and interest) tax deductible as investments in human capital;
eliminating interest payments on loans (as in Australia); and – as recommended
by President Barack Obama during his campaign – granting relief from student
loan principal to young adults who perform public service, as already done for
volunteering for military duty or for medical service in poverty-stricken areas.
Arguments for and against can be made regarding each
proposal. Abolishing the program would, in the long run, solve the familial
contradiction, at the price of short-term hardship and admission declines at
college and universities. This seems politically unlikely. So does a vast
expansion of Pell grants, due this time to prohibitive costs. Expanding debt
forgiveness in exchange for other forms of public service – such as teaching or
lawyering in depressed areas – holds promise. Yet, like the other ideas noted,
it largely sidesteps the inherent family problems.
why not consider another, more direct option?:
every new child born to (or adopted by) indebted married parents, the federal
government would pay off one-fourth of their outstanding student debt, up to
$5,000 each for mother and father (a figure that would be indexed to the
Consumer Price Index).
This would mean that four children born to a couple could
erase as much as $20,000 per parent. This measure expands on the concept of
debt relief in exchange for responsible public service. It would treat marriage
and marital child-bearing as public goods. It would recognize, in the words of
Theodore Roosevelt, that:
in the life of the family, upon which in the last analysis the whole welfare of
the nation rests….The nation is nothing but the aggregate of the families within
It would also be in the spirit of Molly Dewson, a Democratic
architect of Social Security and the New Deal, who declared in 1939:
you begin to help the family to attain some security you are at the same time
beginning to erect a National structure for the same purpose. Through the
well-being of the family, we create the well-being of the Nation. Through our
constructive contributions to the one, we help the other to flourish.
More practically, this choice would immediately
remove the policy-created disincentives toward marriage and child-bearing that
young graduates now face, creating modest incentives in their place. The birth
of four children over the space of six to eight years could eliminate total
family debt of up to $40,000. At the same time, this plan would be far more
cost effective than universal Pell grants. Why? It is highly unlikely that all
indebted college graduates would have the four children needed to gain the full
relief. Moreover, the cap on the maximum amount would mean that over half of
graduates would still repay a significant share of their obligation, even if
they brought four children into the world. Finally, using the overall inflation
rate as an index, rather than inflation in education costs alone, would
dramatically constrain projected costs.
The proposal has several international precedents.
Germany, for example, forgives up to 1,256 Euros per year if the student
borrower is caring for a child under the age of ten.
A few years back, Parti Québécois leader Bernard Landry proposed writing off
half of the student loans of Quebec University graduates if they had a child
within five years of gaining their degrees. He explained: “A vote for the
Parti Québécois is a vote to make Quebec younger.”
Concerning possible objections:
Why favor marriage? The state has a
compelling public interest in the marriage of young adults. Marriage has
beneficial social and health effects for both the married and their children,
and these gifts also benefit immediate communities and all of society. Both
married men and women are, on average, more productive, wealthier, healthier,
happier, and much more engaged as citizens than the unmarried.
Moreover, children growing up in married couple households are also
significantly healthier, safer, and happier, and more likely to succeed in life,
than children growing up in any other circumstance.
This would mean that our society would predictably have fewer children in foster
care, less poverty, crime and drug abuse, and lower health care costs. These
public gifts from marriage would translate into higher government revenues,
lower government expenses, more citizen engagement, and a more stable public
What about young adults who cannot biologically
create children? The same debt forgiveness would be accorded to those
married couples who adopt a child.
Why create an incentive for more births?
Fertility in the United States is just at the replacement level of an average
2.1 births per woman.
Existing federal policy measures such as the income tax and the Social Security
system already contain, again unintentionally, incentives hostile to marriage
This modest countermeasure to still another federal policy discouraging family
formation would support the birth of new human life only within married-couple
homes, where the life prospects for children are predictably the best.
Moreover, the average American life, circa 2009, generates about $2,750,000 in
economic gain over the course of his or her existence;
for the children of college graduates, that figure rises to $4,400,000. Even if
we deduct a third of that to cover the cost of each person’s public education
and possible public care (which is probably too high), the net gain is clear.
These children would stimulate economic demand, expand the labor supply, and
generate extra tax revenues for government of about $1,760,000 per person over a
lifetime. A modest federal investment of up to $10,000 in parental debt relief
at the start of a new life would be a good public investment.
Will this discourage young
people from minimizing their debt and working hard to pay off their loans?
Probably not, since most former students would not have four children and would
therefore still be responsible for a good share of their debt. Also, students
have demonstrated fiscal responsibility by working during college: 74 percent
of full-time students work while attending school and 46 percent of these
students work 25 or more hours per week, often to the detriment of their grades.
Would this plan be too expensive? Once up
and running, the annual cost to the federal government of forgiven debt would be
between $8 and $10 billion, less than a fifth of what a universal “Pell grant”
program would cost.
THE BEST INTENTIONS
Inaugurated as a modest supplement to grants,
scholarships, and other “discounts” against tuition, the Student Loan System –
public and private – has distorted the life choices of young Americans, allowed
college and university administrators to escape fiscal discipline, and
contributed to America’s notorious Culture of Debt. Instead of being – as
promised – vehicles of investment in human capital, student loans have left too
many young Americans in a form of bondage, or financial servitude. The loan
system has also contributed indirectly to the over-expansion of American higher
education and the broad decay of academic standards. Reform is overdue.
Expanding debt relief for public service is the most promising approach,
particularly if this includes relief tied to the birth of children in
The alternative will be a continued crisis in
educational funding, a growing burden of debt, and the accelerated shriveling of
family life among America’s young adults.
 Sandy Baum and Marie O’Malley,
Credit: How Borrowers Perceive Their Education Debt. Results of the
2002 National Student Loan Survey (Washington, DC: Nellie Mae
Corporation, 2003): v-viii; and Statistical Abstract of the United
States: 2004-05, Table 273
 “Why Young Americans are Drowning in Debt,”
Christian Science Monitor; at
: 1-2 [8/18/05].
The 1999 Student Debt Casebook
(Wellington, NZ: New Zealand University Students’ Association and
Aotearoa Polytechnic Students’ Union, 1999).
 Jessica McDonald, “Drowning in Student Loan
: 2 [8/11/05].
 “Why Young Americans Are Drowning in Debt,” p.
 Jennifer Newton Reents, “Are You Ready to Have a
http://pregnancyandbaby.com/cgi-bin/printpage.cgi [8/18/05]: 1-2.
 Laura Sanchez and Constance T. Gager, “Hard
Living, Perceived Entitlement to a Great Marriage, and Marital
Dissolution,” Journal of Marriage and the Family 62
(August 2000): 708-22.
 Pamela J. Smock, Wendy D. Manning, and Elizabeth
Porter, “Everything’s There Except Money: How Money Shapes Decisions to
Marry Among Cohabitating Adults,” Journal of Marriage and the
Family 67 (August 2000): 680-696; Ralph Catalano, “The Health
Effects of Economic Insecurity,” American Journal of Public Health
81 (Sept. 1991): 1148-52; Stanley W. Koutstaal, What’s Money Got
to Do With It?: How Financial Issues Relate to Marital Satisfaction
[Doctoral dissertation] (Lubbock, TX: Texas Tech University, 1998); and
Lillian B. Rubin, Families on the Fault Line (New York:
Harper Collins, 1994).
 Gary Becker,
A Treatise on the Family
(Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1981).
 Phillip Abbott,
The Family on Trial:
Special Relationships in Modern Political Thought (University
Park, PA: The Pennsylvania State University Press, 1980).
 Paul A. Nakonezny, Robert P. Shull, Joseph Lee
Rodgers, “The Effect of No-Fault Divorce Law on the Divorce Rate Across
the 50 States and its Relation to Income, Education, and Religiousity,”
Journal of Marriage and the Family 57 (1995): 477-88.
 John C. Caldwell,
Theory of Fertility
Decline (London and New York: Academic Press, 1982): especially
Chapter 9; and Norman Ryder, “Fertility and Family Structure,” Population Bulletin of the United Nations 15 (1983): 18-32. The
known exceptions to this “law of sociology” usually involve religious
groups which on occasion show a positive relationship between higher
education and fertility, albeit usually only for a decade or two.
Examples include American Roman Catholics during the 1950-65 period and
American Latter-day Saints, or Mormons, during the 1970’s and 1980’s.
See: Lincoln H. Day, “Natality and Ethnocentrism: Some Relationships
Suggested by an Analysis of Catholic-Protestant Differentials,” Population Studies 22 (1968): 27-30; Gerhard Lenski,
Religious Factor: A Sociologist’s Inquiry (New York: Doubleday,
1961): 203, 215-18; and James E. Smith, “A Familistic Religion in a
Modern Society,” in Contemporary Marriage: Comparative
Perspectives on a Changing Institution, ed. Kingsley Davis (New
York: Russell Sage Foundation, 1985): 291, 296.
 Natalie Jackson, “The Higher Education
Contribution Scheme—A HECS on the Family?” Joint Special Issue of
Population Research and NZ Population Review (September, 2002):
109; and “Men, Women and College,” Scientific American 281
(Oct. 1999): 40.
 Robert D. Mare, “Five Decades of Educational
Assortive Mating,” American Sociological Review 56
(February 1991): 15-32.
 Adapted from Jackson, “The Higher Education
Contribution Scheme-A HECS on the Family?” p. 114.
 Richard A. Easterlin,
Birth and Fortune:
The Impact of Numbers on Personal Welfare (New York: Basic
Books, 1980): 39, 57, 60, 69.
 HECS provides an inflation-adjusted,
income-contingent loan to college and university students. Repayment
begins when their employment earnings reach a threshold ($A21,984 in
1999), at a rate varying between 3 and 6 percent. Notably, no interest
 Jackson, “The Higher Education Contribution
Scheme-A HECS on the Family?”, pp. 105-19.
 Baum and O’Malley,
College on Credit,
pp. 12, 16, 18.
 For an analysis of the 1997 results, see: S.
Baum and D. Saunders, “Life After Debt: Results of the National Student
Loan Survey,” Journal of Student Financial Aid 28 (No. 3,
 Council of Australian Postgraduate
Associations, The Social and Economic Impact of Student Debt
(March 2003): 14.
 Susan Choy and C. Dennis Carroll,
Labor Force Experiences and Debt Burden (Washington, DC:
National Center for Educational Statistics [NCES], Office of Educational
Research and Improvement, U.S. Department of Education, 1997): 81-83
[Report No. NCES 97-286].
 K.J. Hillman and G.N. Marks,
Adult: Leaving Home, Relationships and Home Ownership Among Australian
Youth [Research Report No. 28] (Cambenwell, Victoria, Australia:
Australian Council for Educational Research, 2002): 1.
 Smock, “‘Everything’s There Except Money’: How
Money Shapes Decisions to Marry Among Cohabitors,” pp. 680-96.
 Robert D. Manning,
Living With Debt
(Rochester, NY: Department of Finance, Rochester Institute of
Technology, 2005): 56.
 James P. Marshall and Linda Skogrand,
Debt Brought Into Marriage: The Anti-Dowry, FL-2003-03 (Logan,
UT: Utah State University, 2003): 1.
 David Olson, “National Survey of Marital
Strengths ,” at:
 Center for Marriage and Family,
Sex, and Money: The First Five Years of Marriage (Omaha, NE:
Creighton University, 2000): 10-11, 38-41, 49, 53, 56.
 Judith Treas and Deirdre Giesen, “Sexual
Infidelity Among Married and Cohabiting Americans,” Journal of
Marriage and the Family 62 (2000): 48-60.
 Georgina Binstock and Arland Thornton,
“Separations, Reconciliations, and Living Apart in Cohabiting and
Marital Unions,” Journal of Marriage and Family 65 (2003):
 Scott M. Stanley, Sarah W. Whitton, and Howard
J. Markman, “Maybe I Do: Interpersonal Commitment and Premarital or
Nonmarital Cohabitation,” Journal of Family Issues 25
 Christopher J. O’Donnell, Angie Smith, and
Jeanne R. Madison, “Using Demographic Risk Factors to Explain Variables
in the Incidence of Violence Against Women,” Journal of
Interpersonal Violence 17 (2002): 1239-62.
 Maria Testa, Jennifer A. Livingston, and
Kenneth E. Leonard, “Women’s Substance Use and Experiences of Intimate
Partner Violence: A Longitudinal Investigation Among a Community
Sample,” Addictive Behaviors 28 (2003): 1649-64.
 Susan L. Brown, “Family Structure and Child
Well-Being: The Significance of Parental Cohabitation,” Journal of
Marriage and Family 66 (2004): 351-67.
 Speech delivered at the New York State Fair,
Syracuse, September 7, 1903; in Presidential Addresses and State
Papers of Theodore Roosevelt. Part Two (New York: P.F. Collier
& Son, [1904-?]): 479,493.
 Quoted in Alice Kessler-Harris, “Designing
Women and Old Fools: The Construction of the Social Security Amendments
of 1939,” in Linda Kerber, Alice Kessler-Harris, and Kathryn Kish Sklar,
eds., U.S. History as Women’s History (Chapel Hill:
University of North Carolina Press, 1995): 87.
 Alex Usher,
Global Debt Patterns: An
International Comparison of Student Loan Burdens and Repayment
Conditions (Toronto, ON: Educational Policy Institute, 2005): 8,
 Tu Thanh Ma, “Landry Ties Relief on Loans to
New Babies,” Globe and Mail, Mar. 15, 2003; at:
 Linda J. Waite and Maggie Gallagher,
Case for Marriage: Why Married People are Happier, Healthier, and Better
Off Financially (New York: Doubleday, 2000).
 Bridget Maher, ed.,
The Family Portrait:
A Compilation of Data Research and Public Opinion on the Family,
Second Edition (Washington, DC: Family Research Council, 2004).
 The Total Fertility Rate for the U.S. in 2002
was 2.013. Statistical Abstract of the United States, 2004-2005,
Table No. 75. On the phenomenon of contemporary fertility decline, see:
Philip Longman, The Empty Cradle: How Falling Birthrates Threaten
World Prosperity (New York: Basic Books, 2004).
 See: Allan Carlson,
Generations: Crafting a Family Policy for Twenty-First Century America
(New Brunswick, NJ: Transaction, 2005): 96, 125-29.
Statistical Abstract of the United
States, 2001, Table 647. This number assumes an average life
expectancy of 72 years.
 Tracey King and Ellynne Bannon, “At What Cost?
The Price That Working Students Pay for a College Education,” The State
PIRG’s Higher Education Project, Washington, DC, April 2002.