Returning to paid work : mothers and the impact of student loan debt : a thesis presented in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Masters of Social Work, Massey University

Thumbnail Image
Open Access Location
Journal Title
Journal ISSN
Volume Title
Massey University
The Author
The purpose of this research is to examine the factors that influence a mother's decision whether or not to return to the paid workforce and in particular to uncover the role that student loan debt plays in this process. This is undertaken through an exploration of the facets related to this decision including financial pressures, economic dependence, the availability of childcare, personal and societal expectations of motherhood, a mother's own desire to return to the paid workforce and the role that student loan debt plays within the family. The study uses a feminist qualitative approach to enable participants to tell their stories in their own words. The use of this method enables an accurate depiction of the complexity of the participants' decisions without violating their integrity or minimising their experience. This research uncovers that primarily factors affecting the participants' families such as their role within their family, childcare and the family's financial considerations are considered in their decision whether or not to return to the paid workforce. Student debt is seen by the mothers as their individual responsibility that they do not want to effect the income or financial well-being of their family. They feel that it is more important to give priority to family commitments and save towards family goals than repay their student debt. The final section of this thesis provides a discussion of policy implications and presents a challenge to policy makers to redress the inequalities and inaccuracies of the current student loan scheme.
Student aid, New Zealand, Women, Employment re-entry