Journal of Family and Economic Issues

, Volume 40, Issue 1, pp 36–50 | Cite as

Student Loans, Health, and Life Satisfaction of US Households: Evidence from a Panel Study

  • Jinhee Kim
  • Swarn ChatterjeeEmail author
Original Paper


As student loan debt among US households continues to rise, the resulting debt burden may have consequences for multiple aspects of life, including household health and well-being. Using panel data from 2011, 2013, and 2015 waves of the Panel Study of Income Dynamics (PSID), this study investigated whether student loans are associated with self-reported health, psychological problems, and perceived life satisfaction. The results demonstrate that student loan debt was negatively associated with the life satisfaction and psychological well-being of respondents after controlling for other types of debt, such as medical and credit card debt, assets and income, and a number of other sociodemographic factors. Student loan debt from previous periods was also negatively associated with the health status of Hispanic respondents. The policy implications discussed in this study are relevant in the light of increasing higher education costs and debt burdens in America. The key findings from this study have policy implications for the long-term effects of student loans on life satisfaction, health, and well-being over time.


Student loans Life satisfaction Health Psychological problems Income Wealth Financial planning 


Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of interest

Jinhee Kim and Swarn Chatterjee declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Family ScienceUniversity of MarylandCollege ParkUSA
  2. 2.Department of Financial Planning, Housing and Consumer EconomicsUniversity of GeorgiaAthensUSA

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