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Credit card redlining

  • Ethan Cohen-Cole

This paper evaluates the presence of racial disparities in the issuance of consumer credit. Using a unique and proprietary database of credit histories from a major credit bureau, this paper links location-based information on race with individual credit files. After controlling for the influence of such other place-specific factors as crime, housing vacancy rates, and general population demographics, the paper finds qualitatively large differences in the amount of credit offered to similarly qualified applicants living in Black versus White areas. An instrumental variables approach allows the paper to distinguish between issuer-provided credit (supply) and utilization of credit (demand), where instruments for demand are derived from social theory à la Veblen (i.e., `keeping up with the Joneses'). The results suggest that the observed differences in credit lines by racial composition of neighborhood are largely driven by issuer decisions rather than by demand.

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File URL: http://www.bostonfed.org/bankinfo/qau/wp/2008/qau0801.htm
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Paper provided by Federal Reserve Bank of Boston in its series Risk and Policy Analysis Unit Working Paper with number QAU08-1.

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Date of creation: 2008
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Handle: RePEc:fip:fedbqu:qau08-1
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  1. Coate, Stephen & Loury, Glenn C, 1993. "Will Affirmative-Action Policies Eliminate Negative Stereotypes?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 83(5), pages 1220-40, December.
  2. Wendy Edelberg, 2007. "Racial dispersion in consumer credit interest rates," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 2007-28, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
  3. Geoffrey M. Tootell, 1996. "Redlining in Boston: do mortgage lenders discriminate against neighborhoods?," Working Papers 96-6, Federal Reserve Bank of Boston.
  4. 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.
  5. Brock, William A & Durlauf, Steven N, 2001. "Discrete Choice with Social Interactions," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 68(2), pages 235-60, April.
  6. Harbaugh, Richmond, 1996. "Falling behind the Joneses: relative consumption and the growth-savings paradox," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 53(3), pages 297-304, December.
  7. John V. Duca & Stuart S. Rosenthal, 1993. "Borrowing constraints, household debt, and racial discrimination in loan markets," Research Paper 9312, Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas.
  8. Moro, Andrea & Norman, Peter, 2004. "A general equilibrium model of statistical discrimination," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 114(1), pages 1-30, January.
  9. Basmann, Robert L & Molina, David J & Slottje, Daniel J, 1988. "A Note on Measuring Veblen's Theory of Conspicuous Consumption," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 70(3), pages 531-35, August.
  10. Adriaan R. Soetevent, 2006. "Empirics of the Identification of Social Interactions; An Evaluation of the Approaches and Their Results ," Journal of Economic Surveys, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 20(2), pages 193-228, 04.
  11. Ying Li & Eric Rosenblatt, 1997. "Can Urban Indicators Predict Home Price Appreciation? Implications for Redlining Research," Real Estate Economics, American Real Estate and Urban Economics Association, vol. 25(1), pages 81-104.
  12. 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, June.
  13. David B. Gross & Nicholas S. Souleles, 2001. "Do Liquidity Constraints and Interest Rates Matter for Consumer Behavior? Evidence from Credit Card Data," NBER Working Papers 8314, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  14. Sandra Braunstein & Carolyn Welch, 2002. "Financial literacy: an overview of practice, research, and policy," Federal Reserve Bulletin, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.), issue Nov, pages 445-457.
  15. Ferguson, Michael F & Peters, Stephen R, 1995. " What Constitutes Evidence of Discrimination in Lending?," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 50(2), pages 739-48, June.
  16. Zenou, Yves & Boccard, Nicolas, 2000. "Racial Discrimination and Redlining in Cities," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 48(2), pages 260-285, September.
  17. Fred J. Phillips-Patrick & Clifford V. Rossi, 1996. "Statistical Evidence of Mortgage Redlining? A Cautionary Tale," Journal of Real Estate Research, American Real Estate Society, vol. 11(1), pages 13-24.
  18. repec:att:wimass:9127 is not listed on IDEAS
  19. Bagwell, Laurie Simon & Bernheim, B Douglas, 1996. "Veblen Effects in a Theory of Conspicuous Consumption," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 86(3), pages 349-73, June.
  20. Paige Marta Skiba & Jeremy Tobacman, 2007. "Measuring the individual-level effects of access to credit: evidence from payday loans," Proceedings 1069, Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago.
  21. Edward S. Prescott & Daniel D. Tatar, 1999. "Means of payment, the unbanked, and EFT '99," Economic Quarterly, Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond, issue Fall, pages 49-70.
  22. Manski, Charles F, 1993. "Identification of Endogenous Social Effects: The Reflection Problem," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 60(3), pages 531-42, July.
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