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Giving credit where credit is due? the Community Reinvestment Act and mortgage lending in lower-income neighborhoods

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  • Neil Bhutta

Abstract

I identify and quantify the mortgage supply effect of the Community Reinvestment Act (CRA), a law mandating that banks help provide credit in lower-income neighborhoods, by exploiting a discontinuity in the selection rule determining which census tracts CRA targets. Using a comprehensive source of micro data on MSA mortgage applications, I find that CRA affects bank lending primarily in large MSA's, where banks are most scrutinized. The analysis indicates that CRA's effect on bank originations was about 4% between 1994 and 1996, and expanded to 8% in 1997-2002, consistent with the timing of a reform strengthening CRA. I provide some evidence that marginal loans go to atypical, potentially higher-risk borrowers. The results also indicate net "crowd-in": lending to targeted tracts by unregulated institutions rises in post-reform years, in particular to those areas that have had relatively low home purchase volume in the recent past, consistent with a model of information externalities in credit markets. Finally, using changes in tract eligibility status following the release of Census 2000 data as an additional source of variation, I find that CRA increased bank lending to newly targeted tracts in large MSA's by 4-5% in 2004 and 2005.

Suggested Citation

  • Neil Bhutta, 2008. "Giving credit where credit is due? the Community Reinvestment Act and mortgage lending in lower-income neighborhoods," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 2008-61, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
  • Handle: RePEc:fip:fedgfe:2008-61
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Moulton, Shawn, 2014. "Did affordable housing mandates cause the subprime mortgage crisis?," Journal of Housing Economics, Elsevier, vol. 24(C), pages 21-38.
    2. John Fitzgerald & Samuel P. Vitello, 2014. "Impacts of the Community Reinvestment Act on Neighborhood Change and Gentrification," Housing Policy Debate, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 24(2), pages 446-466, April.
    3. Tarr, David G., 2010. "The political, regulatory and market failures that caused the US financial crisis," Policy Research Working Paper Series 5324, The World Bank.
    4. Neil Bhutta, 2009. "Regression discontinuity estimates of the effects of the GSE act of 1992," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 2009-03, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.), revised 01 Jan 2009.

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    Keywords

    Mortgage loans ; Community Reinvestment Act of 1977;

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