UA Economist On Student Debt, Medical Debt And The Growing Income Imbalance

FAYETTEVILLE (KFSM) — University of Arkansas economist Mervin Jebaraj has plenty to talk about these days, including debt impact on Arkansans and a growing separation of incomes that he believes threatens democracy.

Appearing on this week’s edition of Talk Business & Politics, Jebaraj said that a plan to eliminate student loan debt – estimated at more than $1.5 trillion – would initially benefit those who already have an advantage. He noted that those with a college degree make about $30,000 more per year than those who don’t.

Without passing judgment, Jebaraj said wiping out that debt would give them a further leg up.

“Now the question about wiping out college debt or canceling portions of college debt raises questions about inequality. So as I mentioned if a college graduate is making $30,000 more than somebody that does not have a college degree, they’re already going to have a head start in life with their debt included,” Jebaraj said.

“And so it’s a matter of, well if you cancel all their debt how much more of a head start are they going to get compared to somebody that does not have a college degree and that does raise issues about inequality within the generation of Millennials as well.”

Jebaraj points out that the Millennial generation – those born between 1981-1996 – have the highest percentage of college attainment of any previous generation.

“About 40% of millennials have a college degree or higher, which is the largest proportion of any generation that we’ve tracked. The previous highest was probably about 29% with the GenX generation. So this generation is far more educated so they’re carrying a lot more debt,” he said.

To read more, visit Talk Business & Politics.

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