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Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

A new paper looking at student loans suggests that debt does come with more than just interest costs.

What they did: Three researchers, all of them business school professors, managed to persuade Equifax to give them detailed financial data on thousands of borrowers who had student loans from National Collegiate. When the company couldn't prove that it had chain of title, the borrowers' debts were discharged.

By the numbers: Does a significant student debt burden force you to earn more money, just so that you can repay your loans? Or does it just keep you stuck in a suboptimal job, when you might be able to earn more elsewhere?

  • The answer seems to be the latter.

The researchers report: "After the discharge, the borrowers' geographical mobility increases ... ultimately their income increases by more than $4,000 over a three year period, which is equivalent to about two months' average salary."

Go deeper

Dan Primack, author of Pro Rata
1 hour ago - Economy & Business

The unicorn stampede is coming

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

Airbnb and DoorDash plan to go public in the next few weeks, capping off a very busy year for IPOs.

What's next: You ain't seen nothing yet.

15 hours ago - World

Maximum pressure campaign escalates with Fakhrizadeh killing

Photo: Fars News Agency via AP

The assassination of Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, the architect of Iran’s military nuclear program, is a new height in the maximum pressure campaign led by the Trump administration and the Netanyahu government against Iran.

Why it matters: It exceeds the capture of the Iranian nuclear archives by the Mossad, and the sabotage in the advanced centrifuge facility in Natanz.

Scoop: Biden weighs retired General Lloyd Austin for Pentagon chief

Lloyd Austin testifying before Congress in 2015. Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Joe Biden is considering retired four-star General Lloyd Austin as his nominee for defense secretary, adding him to a shortlist that includes Jeh Johnson, Tammy Duckworth and Michele Flournoy, two sources with direct knowledge of the decision-making tell Axios.

Why it matters: A nominee for Pentagon chief was noticeably absent when the president-elect rolled out his national security team Tuesday. Flournoy had been widely seen as the likely pick, but Axios is told other factors — race, experience, Biden's comfort level — have come into play.