A Tale of Two Cities: Racial and Ethnic Geographic Disparities in Home Mortgage Lending in Boston and Philadelphia
Recent data released pursuant to the 1989 amendments to the Home Mortgage Disclosure Act (HMDA) which show large disparities in mortgage lending between minority and non-minority neighborhoods, have refocused the attention of policy makers, lenders, community advocates and academics on possible racial discrimination in the home loan market. In this paper, we review the existing literature on redlining. Many of the methodological shortcomings of the previous studies can be remedied by using post-1989 HMDA data to examine whether lender acceptance or rejection of mortgage applications is related to racial and ethnic neighborhood composition. We test two models of the lender’s decision to accept or reject loan applicants, one including and one without variables that proxy for neighborhood risk using data for Boston and Philadelphia. With proxies for neighborhood risk included, the results do not support the hypothesis that financial institutions redline neighborhoods in these two cities.
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