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American Young Adults’ Debt and Psychological Distress


  • Qun Zhang

    () (University of Kentucky)

  • Hyungsoo Kim

    () (University of Kentucky)


This study explored the impact of student loan and credit card debt on young people’s psychological distress. Targeting American young adults ages 18–28, we examined the impacts of student loan and credit card debt on psychological distress and estimated their relative magnitude using five biannual waves from the Transition into Adulthood Study. Fixed-effects models investigated whether changes in debts led to changes in psychological distress. Increases of $1000 in student loan and credit card debt resulted in 6% and 4% higher odds of distress, respectively. Comparison showed credit card debt inflicted twice as much stress. Implications on young adults’ debt reduction and distress alleviation are addressed.

Suggested Citation

  • Qun Zhang & Hyungsoo Kim, 2019. "American Young Adults’ Debt and Psychological Distress," Journal of Family and Economic Issues, Springer, vol. 40(1), pages 22-35, March.
  • Handle: RePEc:kap:jfamec:v:40:y:2019:i:1:d:10.1007_s10834-018-9605-4
    DOI: 10.1007/s10834-018-9605-4

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    References listed on IDEAS

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