Widely Cited Debt Statistic Was Wrong

April 29, 2019

A widely cited statistic on student debt turns out to be incorrect.

A report by the Urban Institute attracted considerable attention when it found that 49 percent of education debt is held by those in the top quartile of income. Some saw the statistic as a sign of how widespread student debt is; others saw this as evidence that many with student debt can manage it. Urban Institute last week announced that the figure was incorrect and should have been 34 percent, with other quartiles showing larger shares of student debt.

The error was the result of a coding error and was discovered in discussions with a writer for Slate, who had cited the figure previously and who wrote about the correction.

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