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The Geography of Student Debt



Marshall Steinbaum and Kavya Vaghul have put together a really interesting set of interactive maps on the geography of student debt. There’s an introductory essay here.

One element of the student debt story that has already been explored is that borrowers with the lowest student loan balances are the most likely to default because they are also the ones likely face the worst prospects in the labor market. Our analysis using the data displayed in the interactive map is consistent with these findings.

The geography of student debt is very different than the geography of delinquency. Take the Washington, D.C. metro region. In zip codes with high average loan balances (western and central Washington, D.C.), delinquency rates are lower. Within the District of Columbia, median income is highest in these parts of the city. Similar results–low delinquency rates in high-debt areas–can be seen for Chicago, as well.

The whole thing is quite interesting and useful.

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