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The Community Reinvestment Act and Mortgage Lending to Lower Income Borrowers and Neighborhoods

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  • Neil Bhutta

Abstract

This paper evaluates the Community Reinvestment Act (CRA), a law mandating that banks help meet the credit needs of lower income households and neighborhoods. To measure the effect of the law on lending to targeted groups since 1994, I take advantage of discontinuous targeting rules and abrupt changes in target status. On average, the CRA appears to have had little impact on mortgage lending, even during the mid-2000s, when lending to lower income areas nevertheless soared. I do find a significant effect during the late 1990s and early 2000s in large metropolitan areas, when and where the CRA may have been most binding. I use this episode to test the effect of the CRA on overall mortgage availability--that is, lending by both regulated and unregulated institutions. The results are consistent with the notion that government intervention in credit markets may be justified on the grounds that information externalities exist and can depress credit supply.

Suggested Citation

  • Neil Bhutta, 2011. "The Community Reinvestment Act and Mortgage Lending to Lower Income Borrowers and Neighborhoods," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 54(4), pages 953-983.
  • Handle: RePEc:ucp:jlawec:doi:10.1086/661938
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Luc Laeven & Alexander Popov, 2017. "Waking Up from the American Dream: On the Experience of Young Americans during the Housing Boom of the 2000s," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 49(5), pages 861-895, August.
    2. Wardrip, Keith & Hunt, Robert M., 2013. "Residential Migration, Entry, and Exit as Seen Through the Lens of Credit Bureau Data," Payment Cards Center Discussion Paper 13-4, Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia.
    3. Ding, Lei & Nakamura, Leonard I., 2017. "“Don't Know What You Got Till It’s Gone” — The Effects of the Community Reinvestment Act (CRA) on Mortgage Lending in the Philadelphia Market," Working Papers 17-15, Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia.
    4. Andra C. Ghent & Rubén Hernández-Murillo & Michael T. Owyang, 2015. "Did Affordable Housing Legislation Contribute to the Subprime Securities Boom?," Real Estate Economics, American Real Estate and Urban Economics Association, vol. 43(4), pages 820-854, November.
    5. Saadi, Vahid, 2016. "Mortgage supply and the US housing boom: The role of the Community Reinvestment Act," SAFE Working Paper Series 155, Research Center SAFE - Sustainable Architecture for Finance in Europe, Goethe University Frankfurt.
    6. Bhutta, Neil, 2015. "The ins and outs of mortgage debt during the housing boom and bust," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 76(C), pages 284-298.
    7. Ana Patricia Muñoz & Kristin F. Butcher, 2013. "Using credit reporting agency data to assess the link between the Community Reinvestment Act and consumer credit outcomes," Public and Community Affairs Discussion Papers 2013-2, Federal Reserve Bank of Boston.
    8. Saadi, Vahid, 2016. "Mortgage supply and the US housing boom: The role of the community reinvestment act," IWH Discussion Papers 32/2016, Halle Institute for Economic Research (IWH).
    9. W. Scott Frame, 2015. "Introduction to Special Issue: Government Involvement in Residential Mortgage Markets," Real Estate Economics, American Real Estate and Urban Economics Association, vol. 43(4), pages 807-819, November.
    10. Olsen, Edgar O. & Zabel, Jeffrey E., 2015. "US Housing Policy," Handbook of Regional and Urban Economics, Elsevier.

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