This article examined the effects of student loans on the subjective well-being (SWB) of Korean student loan borrowers by analyzing the Korean Education and Employment Panel (KEEP) survey data. In order to systematically investigate how student loans affected borrowers, we assessed their specific effects on the students, both during their studies and after they graduated. The findings are as follows. First, college seniors who experienced difficulties in making repayments reported lower SWB than did those who had not taken out student loans or those who had not experienced difficulties repaying loans. Remaining debt did not influence college seniors' SWB. Second, neither experiencing difficulties on making repayments nor the remaining debt influenced the SWB of college graduates when control variables were considered. Our investigation into why student loans seemingly presented no negative effects after graduation revealed some evidence for the suggestion that loan-takers' expectations regarding their ability to repay after graduation contributed to making the negative effects of student loan debt on happiness disappear. The results of this article demonstrated that student loans, as one measure of the economic status of young adults, can be a predictor of college students' SWB. However, in order to fully assess the effects of student loans on college graduates, an analysis of a longer period after graduation is needed.
Bibliographical notePublisher Copyright:
© 2020 Institute of Social Development and Policy Research, Seoul National University.
- College graduates
- College students
- Higher education
- Student loans
- Subjective well-being (SWB)