Student Debt Cancellation IS Progressive: Correcting Empirical and Conceptual Errors

24 Pages Posted: 24 Aug 2021

See all articles by Charlie Eaton

Charlie Eaton

University of California, Merced

Adam Goldstein

Princeton University - Department of Sociology

Laura Hamilton

University of California, Merced

Frederick Wherry

Princeton University - Department of Sociology

Date Written: August 22, 2021

Abstract

We examine the argument that student loan cancellation would be a regressive policy and show how it arises from several empirical and conceptual errors. The authors conclude that student cancellation can, in fact, be progressive and that more substantial cancellation policies would be more progressive. The reason for this progressivity is simple: people from wealthy backgrounds (and their parents) rarely use student loans to pay for college.

Through examination of five common mistakes that have led some to conclude that student debt cancellation is regressive, the authors show that student debt cancellation would provide more benefits to those with fewer economic resources and could play a critical role in addressing the racial wealth gap and building the Black middle class.

Keywords: student debt, wealth, inequality, race

JEL Classification: I24

Suggested Citation

Eaton, Charlie and Goldstein, Adam and Hamilton, Laura and Wherry, Frederick, Student Debt Cancellation IS Progressive: Correcting Empirical and Conceptual Errors (August 22, 2021). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3909430 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3909430

Charlie Eaton (Contact Author)

University of California, Merced

P.O. Box 2039
Merced, CA 95344
United States

HOME PAGE: http://https://sites.ucmerced.edu/ceaton2

Adam Goldstein

Princeton University - Department of Sociology ( email )

Princeton, NJ
United States

HOME PAGE: http://https://sociology.princeton.edu/people/adam-goldstein

Laura Hamilton

University of California, Merced ( email )

P.O. Box 2039
Merced, CA 95344
United States

Frederick Wherry

Princeton University - Department of Sociology ( email )

Princeton, NJ
United States

HOME PAGE: http://https://sociology.princeton.edu/people/frederick-wherry

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