Redlining in Boston: Do Mortgage Lenders Discriminate Against Neighborhoods?
Revised article published in Quarterly Journal of Economics (November 1996).
Historically, lenders have been accused of "redlining" minority neighborhoods as well as refusing to lend to minority applicants. Considerable bank regulation is designed to prevent both actions. However, the strong correlation between race and neighborhood makes it difficult to distinguish the impact of geographic discrimination from the effects of racial discrimination. Previous studies have failed to untangle these two influences, in part, because of severe omitted variable bias. The data set in this paper allows the distinct effects of race and geography to be identified, and it shows that the evidence for redlining is weak.