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Mortgage lending in Boston: a response to the critics

Author

Listed:
  • Lynn Elaine Browne
  • Geoffrey M.B. Tootell

Abstract

Three years ago, the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston released an examination of racial patterns in mortgage denial rates in the Boston area. The study was motivated by newly available data on mortgage applications, showing that black and Hispanic applicants were two to three times as likely to be turned down for mortgages as white applicants. The study gathered all the variables thought to be missing from the HMDA analysis, such as the applicants' debt burdens and credit histories, to see whether these economic factors explained the racial difference in denial rates. Although the additional information did explain much of the difference, after taking account of economic factors the applicant's race still significantly affected the probability of getting a mortgage.> The study has been influential and has caused many institutions to review their lending practices and supervisory agencies to alter their examination procedures. The study has also drawn criticism, with critics claiming that variables have been omitted, the model misspecified, errors made in the data, and information about racial differences in foreclosures ignored. This article provides a detailed rebuttal to these criticisms and shows that even after incorporating the concerns of some of the study's strongest critics, applicants' race as well as economic characteristics affected the probability of getting a mortgage in 1990.

Suggested Citation

  • 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.
  • Handle: RePEc:fip:fedbne:y:1995:i:sep:p:53-78
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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Stanley D. Longhofer, 1996. "Cultural affinity and mortgage discrimination," Economic Review, Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland, issue Q III, pages 12-24.
    2. Douglas D. Evanoff & Lewis M. Segal, 1996. "CRA and fair lending regulations: resulting trends in mortgage lending," Economic Perspectives, Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago, issue Nov, pages 19-46.
    3. Block, Walter & Snow, Nicholas & Stringham, Edward, 2008. "Banks, insurance companies, and discrimination," MPRA Paper 26035, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    4. Marsha J. Courchane & Stephen L. Ross, 2018. "Evidence and Actions on Mortgage Market Disparities: Research, Fair Lending Enforcement and Consumer Protection," Working Papers 2018-052, Human Capital and Economic Opportunity Working Group.
    5. Judith Clarke & Nilanjana Roy & Marsha Courchane, 2009. "On the robustness of racial discrimination findings in mortgage lending studies," Applied Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 41(18), pages 2279-2297.
    6. Judith Robinson, 2002. "Race, Gender, and Familial Status: Discrimination in One US Mortgage Lending Market," Feminist Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 8(2), pages 63-85.
    7. McKinley Blackburn & Todd Vermilyea, 2006. "A Comparison of Unexplained Racial Disparities in Bank-Level and Market-Level Models of Mortgage Lending," Journal of Financial Services Research, Springer;Western Finance Association, vol. 29(2), pages 125-147, April.
    8. Stanley D. Longhofer & Stephen R. Peters, 1998. "Beneath the rhetoric: clarifying the debate on mortgage lending discrimination," Economic Review, Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland, issue Q IV, pages 2-13.
    9. Wheeler, Christopher H. & Olson, Luke M., 2015. "Racial differences in mortgage denials over the housing cycle: Evidence from U.S. metropolitan areas," Journal of Housing Economics, Elsevier, vol. 30(C), pages 33-49.
    10. Jason Dietrich, 2005. "Under-specified Models and Detection of Discrimination: A Case Study of Mortgage Lending," The Journal of Real Estate Finance and Economics, Springer, vol. 31(1), pages 83-105, August.
    11. Stephen L. Ross, 2005. "The Continuing Practice and Impact of Discrimination," Working papers 2005-19, University of Connecticut, Department of Economics, revised Jul 2006.
    12. Paul S. Calem & Stanley D. Longhofer, 2000. "Anatomy of a fair-lending exam: the uses and limitations of statistics," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 2000-15, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (US).
    13. Michael Hout & Harvey Rosen, 2000. "Self-Employment, Family Background, and Race," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 35(4), pages 670-692.
    14. Cullen Goenner, 2010. "Discrimination and Mortgage Lending in Boston: The Effects of Model Uncertainty," The Journal of Real Estate Finance and Economics, Springer, vol. 40(3), pages 260-285, April.
    15. Helen F. Ladd, 1998. "Evidence on Discrimination in Mortgage Lending," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 12(2), pages 41-62, Spring.
    16. HAROLD Black & M. Collins & Ken Cyree, 1997. "Do Black-Owned Banks Discriminate against Black Borrowers?," Journal of Financial Services Research, Springer;Western Finance Association, vol. 11(1), pages 189-204, February.
    17. David G. Blanchflower & Phillip B. Levine & David J. Zimmerman, 2003. "Discrimination in the Small-Business Credit Market," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 85(4), pages 930-943, November.
    18. Stephen L. Ross, 2003. "What Is Known about Testing for Discrimination: Lessons Learned by Comparing across Different Markets," Working papers 2003-21, University of Connecticut, Department of Economics, revised Nov 2003.
    19. Paul S. Calem & Stanley D. Longhofer, 2000. "Anatomy of a fair-lending exam: the uses and limitations of statistics," Working Papers (Old Series) 0003R, Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland, revised 30 Jul 2000.

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