The verified Women’s March account on Twitter published a tweet lamenting the amount of student debt held by women, but misstated the math in the tweet.
“Women hold $929 BILLION in student debt, two-thirds of the nation’s ENTIRE $1.7 trillion student debt load,” the Women’s March tweeted. “This is a gender justice issue. @POTUS cancel student debt and put an end to this crisis.”
To start, $929 billion is 54.6% of $1.7 trillion, closer to half than two-thirds.
The implications from the Women’s March are also wrong. The tweet and the group’s history of claiming women victimhood suggest it is unfair that women hold so much debt. In reality, women are doing better than men when it comes to college debt. Women make up 59.5% of all college students as of spring 2021, The Wall Street Journal reported, while men made up just 40.5% of enrollment.
This means that while women make up 59.5% of students, they hold just 54.6% of the debt, while men – who make up just 40.5% of students – hold 45.4% of the debt.
There are reasons for this discrepancy, which I wrote about three years ago when the embattled #MeToo organization Time’s Up made a similar claim to the one being made by the Women’s March now.
Women may earn more degrees than men, but they’re still earning degrees that lead to lower-paying jobs after college. As I’ve reported numerous times before, nine of the top 10 lowest paying majors are dominated by women, while nine of the top 10 highest paying majors are dominated by men — and women in large cities actually out-earn their male peers just out of college.
A recent chart from American Enterprise Institute scholar Mark Perry goes even deeper into the discrepancies between men and women in numerous aspects in life. Perry found that for every 100 women who earn a bachelor’s degree, just 73 men earn one. And for every 100 women who earn a master’s degree, just 56 men earn one. The numbers are slightly closer for doctorates: For every 100 women who earn one, 85 men do.
There’s a deeper issue with the Women’s March tweet, which goes to the issue of canceling student debt. In 2019, The Daily Wire’s Matt Walsh listed six reasons why student loan forgiveness is a financially and morally bad idea. One reason why canceling student debt would be a bad idea is because it would allow colleges and universities to continue increasing their prices without improving educational outcomes, as the National Review noted years ago:
In inflation-adjusted terms, government spending on higher education has never been higher. In has climbed by nearly $2,000 per student (in inflation-adjusted dollars) since 2001. As the Foundation for Economic Education points out, Pell Grant spending alone rose 72 percent in the few short years from 2008 to 2013. Tuition and other expenses have risen right along with that spending, driven mainly by an explosion in administrative costs. In the 1980s, there were about twice as many professors as administrators on our college payrolls; today, that number has been reversed, and there are about twice as many administrators and staff as instructors. Administrative spending has increased substantially relative to spending on instruction — and both are much higher in real per-student terms.
Canceling that student debt wouldn’t mean the money evaporates into thin air; the cost would be pushed onto people who didn’t agree to pay back a loan and then complain about the cost, such as working-class Americans who didn’t go to college because they couldn’t afford it. It would also be pushed on to the millions who repaid their own student debt.
As Walsh noted, “nobody forced anyone to take out these loans”:
If you have student debt, you agreed to it. You signed on the dotted line. You made a legal arrangement. It does not make moral or logical sense for a third party to enter the picture and say, “You don’t have to fulfill your obligations and keep your promises.” I know we are way past worrying about silly things like the Constitution, but how does the State even have the Constitutional right to appropriate funds from one citizen in order to fulfill the financial obligations of another?
Walsh also noted that the arguments for canceling student debt could also apply to mortgage, car, credit card, or other debt.
“If you’re struggling with student debt and you’re handed a get-out-of-jail-free card, and I didn’t go to college but I’m struggling to pay my mortgage, should I not be offered the same deal? If your debt is a public emergency, why isn’t my debt also an emergency?” Walsh wrote.
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