The Republic of Letters

High Student Debt In Sweden, Even Though College Is Free

Even though college is totally free in Sweden, “…85% of Swedish students graduate with debt versus only 50% in the US.” Wait–what? Read on.

And the stats get even worse. Philips writes:

…new Swedish graduates have the highest debt-to-income ratios of any group of students in the developed world (according to estimates of what they’re expected to earn once they get out of school)—somewhere in the neighborhood of 80%. The US, where we’re constantly being told that student debt is hitting crisis proportions, the average is more like 60%.

So, what gives? According to Philips, Swedes take on massive amounts of debt to pay for rent and other living expenses, which are staggeringly high, since hardly any of them stay at their parental home.  Driving home this point–chuckle; did you get it: parental home and driving home? Yea, it’s dumb, I know, but that’s why I said “chuckle.” And for the record, it wasn’t even intended. Anyway.– Philips relates this interesting factoid:

Swedes, like other Nordic Europeans, have an independent streak. They leave their parental homes earlier than almost all their southern neighbors.

One study found that just 2% of Swedish men lived with their parents after the age of 30. In Spain, a quarter of 30-year-old men still are shacking up with mom and dad; in Italy it was around 32%.

Interesting, no? Well, read the whole thing.

(HT: Tyler Cowen)