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Employer Credit Checks: Poverty Traps versus Matching Efficiency

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  • Dean Corbae
  • Andrew Glover

Abstract

We develop a framework to understand pre-employment credit screening through adverse selection in labor and credit markets. Workers differ in an unobservable characteristic that induces a positive correlation between labor productivity and repayment rates in credit markets. Firms therefore prefer to hire workers with good credit because it correlates with high productivity. A poverty trap may arise, in which an unemployed worker with poor credit has a low job finding rate, but cannot improve her credit without a job. In our calibrated economy, this manifests as a large and persistent wage loss from default, equivalent to 2.3% per month over ten years. Banning employer credit checks eliminates the poverty trap, but pools job seekers and reduces matching efficiency: average unemployment duration rises by 13% for the most productive workers after employers are banned from using credit histories to screen potential hires.

Suggested Citation

  • Dean Corbae & Andrew Glover, 2018. "Employer Credit Checks: Poverty Traps versus Matching Efficiency," NBER Working Papers 25005, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:25005
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    Cited by:

    1. Gajendran Raveendranathan & Georgios Stefanidis, 2020. "The Unprecedented Fall in U.S. Revolving Credit," Department of Economics Working Papers 2020-05, McMaster University.
    2. Satyajit c & Dean Corbae & Kyle Dempsey & Jose-Victor Rios-Rull, 2020. "A Quantitative Theory of the Credit Score," PIER Working Paper Archive 20-030, Penn Institute for Economic Research, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania.
    3. Kristle R. Cortes & Andrew Glover & Murat Tasci, 2022. "The Unintended Consequences of Employer Credit Check Bans for Labor Markets," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 104(5), pages 997-1009, December.
    4. Stefania Albanesi & Domonkos F. Vamossy, 2019. "Predicting Consumer Default: A Deep Learning Approach," Working Papers 2019-056, Human Capital and Economic Opportunity Working Group.
    5. Exler, Florian & Tertilt, Michèle, 2020. "Consumer Debt and Default: A Macro Perspective," IZA Discussion Papers 12966, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    6. Exler, Florian & Livshits, Igor & MacGee, Jim & Tertilt, Michèle, 2020. "Consumer Credit with Over-Optimistic Borrowers," CEPR Discussion Papers 15570, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    7. Exler, Florian & Tertilt, Michèle, 2020. "Consumer Debt and Default: A Macroeconomic Perspective," CEPR Discussion Papers 14425, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    8. Laura Blattner & Scott Nelson, 2021. "How Costly is Noise? Data and Disparities in Consumer Credit," Papers 2105.07554, arXiv.org.

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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • E24 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Consumption, Saving, Production, Employment, and Investment - - - Employment; Unemployment; Wages; Intergenerational Income Distribution; Aggregate Human Capital; Aggregate Labor Productivity
    • E44 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Money and Interest Rates - - - Financial Markets and the Macroeconomy

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