Discrimination in Lending: Theory and Evidence
Using a general equilibrium model of credit market discrimination, I find that both taste-based discrimination and statistical discrimination have similar predictions for the intergroup differences in loan terms. The commonly held view has been that if taste-based discrimination exists, loans approved to minority borrowers will have higher expected profitability than those to majorities with comparable credit background. I show that the validity of this profitability view depends crucially on how expected loan profitability is measured. I also show that taste-based discrimination must exist if loans to minority borrowers have higher expected rates of return or lower expected rates of default loss than those to majorities with the same exogenous characteristics observed by lender at the time of loan originations. My analysis suggests that the valid method to test for taste-based discrimination should be reduced-form regressions. Empirically, I fail to find supporting evidence for the existence of taste-based discrimination.
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