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Self-Selection and Discrimination in Credit Markets


  • Stanley D. Longhofer
  • Stephen R. Peters


In this article we make two contributions toward a better understanding of the causes and consequences of discrimination in credit markets. First, we develop an explicit theoretical model of loan underwriting in which lenders use a simple Bayesian updating process to evaluate applicant creditworthiness. Using a signal correlated with an applicant's true creditworthiness and their prior beliefs about the distribution of credit risk in the applicant pool, lenders are able to evaluate an applicant's expected or "inferred" creditworthiness to determine which loans to approve and which to deny. Second, we explicitly model the self-selection behavior of individuals. Because these decisions shape lenders' prior beliefs about the distribution of credit risk, they also affect the Bayesian posterior from which lenders compute an applicant's inferred creditworthiness, implying that statistical discrimination can arise endogenously. As an example, we show that in a market in which only some lenders have Beckerian tastes for discrimination there are conditions under which lenders without racial animus will also discriminate. Our model's flexibility makes it ideal for analyzing a wide variety of empirical and policy questions. Copyright 2005 by the American Real Estate and Urban Economics Association

Suggested Citation

  • Stanley D. Longhofer & Stephen R. Peters, 2005. "Self-Selection and Discrimination in Credit Markets," Real Estate Economics, American Real Estate and Urban Economics Association, vol. 33(2), pages 237-268, June.
  • Handle: RePEc:bla:reesec:v:33:y:2005:i:2:p:237-268

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Fama, Eugene F., 1976. "Forward rates as predictors of future spot rates," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 3(4), pages 361-377, October.
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    Cited by:

    1. Andrew Carswell, 2009. "Does Housing Counseling Change Consumer Financial Behaviors? Evidence from Philadelphia," Journal of Family and Economic Issues, Springer, vol. 30(4), pages 339-356, December.
    2. Blanchard, Lloyd & Zhao, Bo & Yinger, John, 2008. "Do lenders discriminate against minority and woman entrepreneurs?," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 63(2), pages 467-497, March.
    3. Lloyd Blanchard & Bo Zhao & John Yinger, 2005. "Do Credit Market Barriers Exist for Minority and Women Entrepreneurs?," Center for Policy Research Working Papers 74, Center for Policy Research, Maxwell School, Syracuse University.
    4. Smith, Brent C, 2011. "Stability in consumer credit scores: Level and direction of FICO score drift as a precursor to mortgage default and prepayment," Journal of Housing Economics, Elsevier, vol. 20(4), pages 285-298.
    5. Goodman, Allen C. & Smith, Brent C., 2010. "Residential mortgage default: Theory works and so does policy," Journal of Housing Economics, Elsevier, vol. 19(4), pages 280-294, December.
    6. Solomon Y. Deku & Alper Kara & Phil Molyneux, 2014. "Access to Consumer Credit in the UK," Working Papers 14004, Bangor Business School, Prifysgol Bangor University (Cymru / Wales).
    7. Song Han, 2011. "Creditor Learning and Discrimination in Lending," Journal of Financial Services Research, Springer;Western Finance Association, vol. 40(1), pages 1-27, October.

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