Dissertation

For my dissertation, I examine the high-cost payday lending industry to consider the macro-level organizational and regulatory contexts of unequal access to credit.

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Image by Taber Andrew Bain is licensed under CC BY 2.0

This project builds on research in economic sociology, organizational theory, and network studies and combines archival research with spatial and quantitative analyses.

In one project, I examine financial ties between payday lenders and mainstream banks using archival financial documents filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission. I first construct the longitudinal financial network of payday lenders and banks and use inductive text analysis to identify key motivations for sustained financial exchange.

I then combine these network data with geospatial data on payday lender storefronts and bank branches in the Denver area between 1995 and 2014 to examine whether network ties may alter the spatial distribution of financial services within communities. My results suggest that these aspatial networks may matter for spatial outcomes: the presence of payday lenders within a local market is positively and significantly associated with the likelihood of an “in-network” bank opening a branch in the market, but has no significant association with out-of-network bank openings.

In another project, I again use geospatial data to examine whether the 2007 Military Lending Act capping interest rates on loans to military servicemembers resulted in a reduction in the number of payday storefronts within military communities. Early results indicate that the MLA alone had virtually no impact on the number of storefronts, suggesting that broader regulations are need to protect vulnerable populations.

I conclude with a study of how the payday lending industry has actively adapted and responded to changing regulations. I do so via an examination of press releases, lobbying disclosures, and public comments related to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s payday loan rule-making process between 2012 and 2017.