Research finds racial discrimination in mortgage market persistent over last four decades

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Daily file photo by Katie Pach

The study found that in contrast to the decline in racial gaps for lone denials, racial gaps in mortgage costs haven’t changed in 40 years.

Isabelle Sarraf, Assistant Campus Editor

A new study led by sociology Prof. Lincoln Quillian found that racial disparities in the mortgage market have not declined significantly over the last 30 to 40 years, despite discrimination in the housing market decreasing in the same timeframe.

This research, which was recently published in the academic journal Race and Social Problems, analyzed trends in loan denial and cost against black, Latinx, and Asian lenders through studies conducted from the 1970s until the present. The study was also co-authored by graduate sociology students John Lee and Brandon Honoré.

Quillian told Northwestern Now there was a significant persistence of discrimination in the treatment against white versus non-white prospective homeowners when it came to housing audits.

“We find declines in most forms of discrimination, especially the more extreme forms like falsely claiming an advertised unit is no longer available,” Quillian said.

The study also found that in contrast to the decline in racial gaps for lone denials, racial gaps in mortgage costs haven’t changed in 40 years. Black and Hispanic borrowers overall receive a more high-cost mortgage than white borrowers.

The results of Quillian’s study suggest that the housing and mortgage markets should not only continue anti-discrimination efforts but increase them. This would ensure that home seekers from marginalized communities can receive equal treatment regardless of their race or ethnicity, the study noted.

“It was distressing to find no evidence of reduced discrimination in the mortgage market over the last 35 years,” Quillian said. “Discrimination in the mortgage market makes it more difficult for minority households to build wealth through housing, contributing to racial wealth gaps.”

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Twitter: @isabellesarraf

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