Student loans, fertility, and economic growth

By Koichi Miyazaki

The cost of attaining higher education is growing in some developed countries. More young people borrow larger amounts than before to finance their higher education. Several media reports indicate that student loans might affect young people’s decision making regarding important life events such as marriage, childbirth, purchasing a house, and so on. Specifically, this paper focuses on how the burden of student loans affects young people’s decision making with regard to the number of children to have, and studies the fertility rate, gross domestic product (GDP) growth rate, and growth rate of GDP per capita using a three-period overlapping generations model. A young agent needs to borrow to accumulate his/her human capital, although for some reason, s/he faces the borrowing constraint. In the next period, the agent repays his/her debt as well as determines the number of children to have. Under this setting, this paper analyzes how the tightness of the borrowing constraints affects the growth rates of the population, GDP, and GDP per capita. The paper finds that when rearing children is time-consuming, the population growth rate decreases as the borrowing constraints are relaxed. Moreover, the paper shows a case in which the GDP growth rate decreases as the borrowing constraints are relaxed, whereas the growth rate of GDP per capita still increases. In addition, I show that if the cost of rearing children is mainly monetary, then the population growth rate is not necessarily decreasing as the borrowing constraints are relaxed. The paper also calibrates the model using U.S. data.

Very interesting question. The paper is a nice exploratory work that shows what could matter. It has a lot of potential for further work, in particular extending the model to more than three periods, so that a richer life-cycle profile can be taken into account, including the other big choices mentioned in the abstract.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: