Gender, age, and race in subprime America
For almost 20 years, evidence from journalists' reports, Congressional testimony, and consumer protection litigation suggested that predatory practices in the subprime market were especially harmful for elderly African American women, many of them widows. Much of this evidence has been dismissed as anecdotal, however, and lending research has generally ignored feminist theory -- obscuring the relations among race/ethnicity, gender, and age. In this paper, we draw on two complementary datasets to test the hypothesis that subprime inequalities were intensified for African American women. Analysis of Home Mortgage Disclosure Act (HMDA) data confirms that gender inequalities exacerbate racial/ethnic inequalities in the segmentation of high-cost subprime credit, while the National Mortgage Data Repository provides limited circumstantial evidence of disproportionate representation of elderly African American women. Loan terms among subprime borrowers in the NMDR display only modest variations by gender and race/ethnicity, however, although there is some evidence of bait-and-switch tactics and persistently higher total fees among African American women. The veneer of equal treatment within an exploitative subprime market conceals the wider context of structural inequalities of race/ethnicity, gender, and age in housing and credit.
Volume (Year): 21 (2011)
Issue (Month): 4 (August)
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