IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this article

Gender, age, and race in subprime America


  • Elvin Wyly
  • C.S. Ponder


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.

Suggested Citation

  • Elvin Wyly & C.S. Ponder, 2011. "Gender, age, and race in subprime America," Housing Policy Debate, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 21(4), pages 529-564, August.
  • Handle: RePEc:taf:houspd:v:21:y:2011:i:4:p:529-564
    DOI: 10.1080/10511482.2011.615850

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: Access to full text is restricted to subscribers.

    As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to search for a different version of it.

    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Stephen L. Ross & John Yinger, 2002. "The Color of Credit: Mortgage Discrimination, Research Methodology, and Fair-Lending Enforcement," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262182289, January.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)


    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.

    Cited by:

    1. Maarten van Ham & David Manley, 2012. "Neighbourhood effects research at a crossroads. Ten challenges for future research," Environment and Planning A, Pion Ltd, London, vol. 44(12), pages 2787-2793, December.
    2. Keene, Danya E. & Lynch, Julia F. & Baker, Amy Castro, 2014. "Fragile health and fragile wealth: Mortgage strain among African American homeowners," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 118(C), pages 119-126.

    More about this item


    Access and download statistics


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:taf:houspd:v:21:y:2011:i:4:p:529-564. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Chris Longhurst). General contact details of provider: .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.