Monday, June 21, 2021

75% of Younger Adults Are in Debt

The 77 percent majority of American households are in debt, according to the Federal Reserve Board's Survey of Consumer Finances. The accumulation of debt starts early. Among 18-to-24-year-olds, 68 percent report that their household has debt, according to a University of Chicago GenForward Survey fielded in 2020. The figure is 76 percent among those aged 25 to 30 and 82 percent among 31-to-36-year-olds.  

Percent of people aged 18 to 36 with household debt
75% have any household debt
35% have student loans
32% have auto loans
28% have a mortgage
23% carry a credit card balance 
15% have past-due medical debt

Student loans are the most common type of debt among younger adults, and the percentage of 18-to-36-year-olds with student loans does not vary much by age. Student loan debt is most common among younger adults with some college (42 percent) or a bachelor's degree (46 percent), but it is also significant among those without a high school diploma (23 percent) and those with only a high school diploma (19 percent). 

Nearly half (48 percent) of young adults say their household debt is manageable. But a substantial 16 percent say their debt is a bit more than is manageable, and another 8 percent say their debt is far more than is manageable. The debt burden shouldered by younger adults helps to explain why they have been slow to embrace significant life events...

Percent of 18-to-36-year-olds who say debt has delayed life event
Buying a home: 29%
Buying a car: 26%
Saving for retirement: 25%
Continuing their education: 22%
Having children: 14%
Marrying: 12%

Source: University of Chicago, GenForward Survey, Race, Ethnicity, and the Financial Lives of Young Adults

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