New Study Shines Light on Effect of Debt on Happiness

While money can lead to happiness, a new study notes that a person’s level of debt should also be considered in the money-happiness equation.

“There has been a lot of research looking at whether and how income makes people happy in life, but few studies have examined whether debt can detract from happiness. We found that carrying student loan debt is almost as important as income in predicting financial worry and life satisfaction,” said Dr. Louis Tay, an assistant professor of psychological sciences at Purdue University, who studies the effects of income and money on happiness.

The study is based on data from the Gallup-Purdue Index, which provides a measure of how college graduates are doing on five key dimensions of well-being: purpose, social, physical, financial, and community.

An online alumni sample of 2,781 individuals from the United States was used in Tay’s study. On average, these individuals graduated from college in 2008 and had been paying student loans for at least seven years.

In addition to demographic data, Tay’s analysis looked at the relationships between average household income, student loan amount, life satisfaction, and financial worry.

“We always think about how much income you can earn, but the reality is you can’t guarantee what you will earn post-college,” Tay said. “There is a lot in the news about reducing, balancing or managing college student debt, and this study shows the burden it can take on one’s life for the long term.”

Personal and household debt is a concern for many Americans. The Federal Reserve Bank of New York estimates that household debt has increased from $8.29 trillion in 2004 to $12.29 trillion in 2016.

Tay notes future studies will need to look at other sources of debt, as well as the role of “good” debt vs. “bad” debt, among the various kinds of debt, such as a mortgage, student loans, or credit cards.

“How student loans are categorized for the long-term would be interesting,” Tay said. “For example, to what extent is it viewed as an investment, and does that vary among careers?”

The study was published in the Journal of Happiness Studies.


요약:수입이 사람들을 행복하게 할 수 있는지 여부 및 그 과정과 관련한 연구는 많았지만, 빚이 사람들의 행복을 손상시킬 수 있는지에 대한 연구는 부족했다. 퍼듀 대학 연구팀의 연구 결과에 따르면 빚이 있는 것은 수입 만큼이나 재정적인 문제에 대한 걱정 및 삶에 대한 만족도를 예측할 수 있는 것으로 나타났다. 우리는 언제나 돈을 얼마나 더 벌 수 있을지에 대해서 생각하지만, 현실은 학자금 대출과 같은 빚이 우리의 인생에 장기적으로 미칠 수 있는 영향에 대해서 이야기 하고 있다.