Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Deferred but Not Denied: The Impact of Student Debt on Homeownership and the U.S. Racial Wealth Gap
by Gray, Sarah Elizabeth Murphy, Ph.D., Brandeis University, The Heller School for Social Policy and Management, 2020, 176; 27736680
Abstract (Summary)

Amongst friends and contemporaries that identify as Millennials, many have noted the impact of student debt in reference to other major financial decisions such as getting married or buying a home. It turns out that my friends were not alone - surveys in 2012 and 2014 illustrate that young people believe student debt is a direct barrier to homeownership (Stone et. al 2012; Shahdad 2014). Education, income, and homeownership are three of the most influential factors of long-term wealth, and the areas in which the racial wealth gap is most evident (Sullivan, et al, 2015). While there has been research on the impact of student debt, this dissertation is among the first to examine the impact of student debt on homeownership, home values, and home equity across various races through quantitative, theoretical, and geospatial methods to provide potential policy recommendations. This dissertation raises a tenet of Critical Race Theory, the central role of race and racism in society, as a focal point in understanding the barriers of reaching the American Dream for families of color (Lee, 2008). Therefore, Critical Race Theory is used as a lens with which to address the distinct differences that underlie our concept of the American Dream in the 21st century. My dissertation pursues the following questions:

1. To what extent does the homeownership rates of African American and Latinx graduates with and without student debt compare to their White counterparts? To what extent does carrying student debt impact the home values of graduates who own homes? To what extent does student loan debt impact the home equity of graduates who own homes?

2. Where do graduates of color live, accounting for their student debt and homeownership rates, with respect to median home values by zip code? How do these zip codes compare to those of White graduates? How do graduates of color compare to their racial groups as a whole?

3. How does current theory on the racial wealth gap inform research on student debt? In what way can the literature gathered inform theory and policy surrounding these issues?

This dissertation has been written in three publishable papers, employing several methods: theoretical review, geo-spatial mapping and statistical analysis through Ordinary Least Squares and Logistic Modeling. The Panel Study of Income Dynamics has been used to complete the statistical analysis portion of the research. The 2012–2016 American Community Survey, Mapping Student Debt, and the U.S. Census Bureau has been used to complete the geo-spatial mapping portion of the research. The Intersectionality-Based Policy Analysis (IBPA) Framework (Hankivsky, et al 2014; Hankivsky 2012) served as the guiding framework in analyzing asset-based policies through theoretical review.

Given the rising student debt experienced more heavily by households of color concurrent with the widening racial wealth gap, it is imperative that we implement effective policies to help households preserve and build long-term wealth. This research aims to determine the exact impact student debt has on families of color.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Shapiro, Thomas
Commitee: Hill, Anita, Nsiah-Jefferson, Laurie, Meschede, Tatjana, McAfee, Michael
School: Brandeis University, The Heller School for Social Policy and Management
Department: The Heller School for Social Policy and Management
School Location: United States -- Massachusetts
Source: DAI-A 81/8(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Public policy, Sociology
Keywords: African American, Higher education, Homeownership, Latinx, Racial wealth gap, Student debt
Publication Number: 27736680
ISBN: 9781392348970
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