Lesley Turner, Associate Professor of Economics at Vanderbilt University
Lesley J. Turner is an Associate Professor of Economics at Vanderbilt University, faculty research fellow of the National Bureau of Economic Research, and CESifo research affiliate. Her research broadly considers the roles that government should play in providing and financing education.
Alongside Prof. Rajeev Darolia, Prof. Turner is using SLLI’s datasets in conjunction with other data to explore the long-term impact of income-driven repayment (IDR) on borrowers’ financial lives. Their research explored the long-term benefits that this critical protection provides borrowers across their financial lives and broader decision making, including the impact of IDR on borrowers’ future earnings, educational investments and household formation. To date, policymakers have lacked the insight needed to craft fulsome solutions to address the domino effect of student debt. This research helps to complete the puzzle, revealing if and how IDR can be used to mitigate the longer-term ramifications of student debt.
In addition, alongside Dr. Juan Saavedra and Dr. Jeremy Burke, Prof. Turner is examining the effect of student loans on intergenerational wealth by linking SLLI datasets with California state tax records and housing data from Zillow. These grantees are studying how shocks to home values stemming from the Great Recession impacted student loan debt and subsequent housing wealth in California, offering new insight into the link between family wealth, student loan utilization, and lifetime financial outcomes for borrowers. As policymakers work to address systemic racial disparities in America’s financial markets, this work will provide unprecedented insight into the key role student debt plays in perpetuating these disparities across generations.