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Evidence on Discrimination in Mortgage Lending


  • Helen F. Ladd


Much of the controversy about whether mortgage lenders discriminate against minorities can be explained in terms of the confusion about how to define discrimination. Based on the legal definition, careful studies of loan denial rates, such as that done by the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, represent an appropriate method for testing for discrimination by lenders. Based on that study, it is quite clear that lenders discriminate. The fact that minorities have higher default rates on average than whites is irrelevant to the interpretation of the race coefficient in such models. Nonetheless, more research on and discussion about the relationship between the race of the applicant and delinquencies, defaults, and losses would be desirable.

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  • Helen F. Ladd, 1998. "Evidence on Discrimination in Mortgage Lending," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 12(2), pages 41-62, Spring.
  • Handle: RePEc:aea:jecper:v:12:y:1998:i:2:p:41-62 Note: DOI: 10.1257/jep.12.2.41

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. James A. Berkovec & Glenn B. Canner & Stuart A. Gabriel & Timothy H. Hannan, 1998. "Discrimination, Competition, And Loan Performance In Fha Mortgage Lending," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 80(2), pages 241-250, May.
    2. Michael H. Schill & Susan M. Wachter, "undated". "A Tale of Two Cities: Racial and Ethnic Geographic Disparities in Home Mortgage Lending in Boston and Philadelphia," Rodney L. White Center for Financial Research Working Papers 16-93, Wharton School Rodney L. White Center for Financial Research.
    3. Yinger, John, 1986. "Measuring Racial Discrimination with Fair Housing Audits: Caught in the Act," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 76(5), pages 881-893, December.
    4. Munnell, Alicia H. & Geoffrey M. B. Tootell & Lynn E. Browne & James McEneaney, 1996. "Mortgage Lending in Boston: Interpreting HMDA Data," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 86(1), pages 25-53, March.
    5. Charles W. Calomiris & Charles M. Kahn & Stanley D. Longhofer, 1994. "Housing-finance intervention and private incentives: helping minorities and the poor," Proceedings, Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland, pages 634-678.
    6. Hunter, William C & Walker, Mary Beth, 1996. "The Cultural Affinity Hypothesis and Mortgage Lending Decisions," The Journal of Real Estate Finance and Economics, Springer, vol. 13(1), pages 57-70, July.
    7. Phelps, Edmund S, 1972. "The Statistical Theory of Racism and Sexism," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 62(4), pages 659-661, September.
    8. James A. Berkovec & Glenn B. Canner & Stuart A. Gabriel & Timothy H. Hannan, 1994. "Race, redlining, and residential mortgage loan performance," Proceedings, Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia, pages 263-298.
    9. Lynn Elaine Browne & Geoffrey M.B. Tootell, 1995. "Mortgage lending in Boston: a response to the critics," New England Economic Review, Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, issue Sep, pages 53-78.
    10. Geoffrey M.B. Tootell, 1993. "Defaults, denials, and discrimination in mortgage lending," New England Economic Review, Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, issue Sep, pages 45-51.
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    JEL classification:

    • J71 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Labor Discrimination - - - Hiring and Firing
    • G21 - Financial Economics - - Financial Institutions and Services - - - Banks; Other Depository Institutions; Micro Finance Institutions; Mortgages


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