NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

The Younger Generation's Stake In The National Debt

February 8, 1996

Young Americans are usually less inclined to turn up at the polls on election day than are their seniors. But that may change as they become increasingly aware of the burden of government debt that their parent's generation is bequeathing them.

The profligacy of government appears to be sinking in, and some young people are becoming truly concerned about the amount they will have to pay during their working lives just to service the federal debt, let alone pay off the principle.

  • Currently, the national debt tops $4.9 trillion.
  • If the federal government were to be forced to make good on the entire debt right now, every American would have to cough up $18,000.
  • A child born today can expect to contribute $187,000 in taxes merely to service the interest on the debt.
  • The average American now pays $800 a year in taxes just to pay this interest.

Only by balancing the federal budget speedily will those now entering the workforce and their younger siblings escape some of this burden. And balancing the budget will have other salutary effects, such as lowering interest rates by one or two percentage points. This lowered interest rate would mean:

  • A four-year loan on a $15,000 car would be $676 less expensive.
  • Payments on a 30-year, $80,000 mortgage would be $107 less each month -- or $43,520 over the life of the mortgage.
  • Students at a four-year college would save $8,885 on a typical ten-year loan.
  • Over the next ten year, 4.25 million new jobs could be created, boosting per capita income more than 16 percent.

Source: Keith Halverstam, (Employment Policies Institute), "A Message From Those Stuck With the Bill," The Washington Times, February 8, 1996.


Browse more articles on Tax and Spending Issues