Payday Lending and the Demand for Alternative Financial Services
In this Issue Brief we discuss research that explores the impact of banning or strictly regulating high-cost consumer financial services like payday loans. Industry supporters maintain that such bans deprive consumers of vital access to cash, while opponents contend that these services trap individuals in a cycle of debt and thus generate more harm than good. We specifically measure the effect of state bans on payday lending on the demand for an alternative source of high-cost consumer credit: tax refund anticipation loans. We employ a unique matched zip-code strategy to construct an appropriate control group. Our results provide support for the view that "cycle-of-debt" borrowers dominate the payday lending market. These results imply that restrictions on high-cost consumer financial services may improve consumer welfare.