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What’s in a Picture?: Evidence of Discrimination from Prosper.com

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  • Devin G. Pope
  • Justin R. Sydnor

Abstract

We find evidence of significant racial disparities in a new type of credit market known as peer-to-peer lending. Loan listings with blacks in the attached picture are 25 to 35 percent less likely to receive funding than those of whites with similar credit profiles. Despite the higher average interest rates charged to blacks, lenders making such loans earn a lower net return compared to loans made to whites with similar credit profiles because blacks have higher relative default rates. These results provide insight into whether the discrimination we find is taste-based or statistical.

Suggested Citation

  • Devin G. Pope & Justin R. Sydnor, 2011. "What’s in a Picture?: Evidence of Discrimination from Prosper.com," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 46(1), pages 53-92.
  • Handle: RePEc:uwp:jhriss:v:46:y:2011:i:1:p:53-92
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Kate Antonovics & Brian G. Knight, 2009. "A New Look at Racial Profiling: Evidence from the Boston Police Department," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 91(1), pages 163-177, February.
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    5. Munnell, Alicia H. & Geoffrey M. B. Tootell & Lynn E. Browne & James McEneaney, 1996. "Mortgage Lending in Boston: Interpreting HMDA Data," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 86(1), pages 25-53, March.
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    7. Guido W. Imbens, 2004. "Nonparametric Estimation of Average Treatment Effects Under Exogeneity: A Review," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 86(1), pages 4-29, February.
    8. Geoffrey M. B. Tootell, 1996. "Redlining in Boston: Do Mortgage Lenders Discriminate Against Neighborhoods?," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 111(4), pages 1049-1079.
    9. Margery A. Turner & Stephen Ross & George C. Galster & John Yinger, 2002. "Discrimination in Metropolitan Housing Markets: National Results from Phase 1 of the Housing Discrimination Study (HDS)," Working papers 2002-16, University of Connecticut, Department of Economics.
    10. Geoffrey M. B. Tootell, 1996. "Redlining in Boston: do mortgage lenders discriminate against neighborhoods?," Working Papers 96-6, Federal Reserve Bank of Boston.
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