@Gef the Talking Mongoose : As I understand the data...
Quoth the paper, p. 7 : "It is important to note that we measure the amount owed at the time of the survey, which will differ in many cases from the amount originally borrowed."
Post- a very casual look at the underlying paper, here's another point elided by the Times's analysis :
The study includes only people aged 20 to 40 currently paying against their student loan debt. I think it's a fair assumption that the majority of the people in this group are not incurring additional student loan debt (ie, they took out all the student loans they'll ever take out before the age of 20). As I understand the data, the paper defines "student debt" here as the balance of debt currently held, not total debt incurred. That's (one of the reasons) why it seems low -- on average, a person in this study has been paying off their debt for 10 years already, and the current debt reported reflects that.
People in this group have been spending their prime savings years paying down their student loan debt. The low numbers reported by the study just reflect the unprecedented degree to which individuals' incomes have been rerouted from savings to servicing their student loan debt.
I'm not sure if it speaks to natural cynicism or hard-won experience with census data, but as soon as I saw the phrase "young-adult households" in the original Times article, my scammy-analysis warning light lit up for exactly the reasons you mentioned.
@Gef the Talking Mongoose : I'm going to set up my autocorrect dictionary to auto-vocal-fry everything I type so it allllll comesss out liiiiike thiiizzzzz.
@amockingbird : Well, seeing as how it will undoubtedly autocorrect "aspirate" as "asspirate," Choire's iPhone will never be fit for medical use.
@jolie : It seems totally reasonable that it should always be CHOIRE, if not CHOIRRRRRRE.
Also, Amtrak. Like they could have come up with a more underachieving name, or a less pleasant one to say. It straight-up sounds like a Soviet weather station or munition or maybe both. We will achieve greater national glory with AMTRAK deployment.
So, basically, a more efficient version of Marina Abramović. I'm down with that.
@jolie : On my way!
Also, I feel that a shortcut that turns a typed "fuck" into "fuuuuuuuck" would be the best thing ever. I'm doing that right now.
@Freddie DeBoer : I skipped down to comments just to point this out, so I'm glad you beat me to it.
By the halfway point, I would have been throwing a serious culture fit.