How payday credit access affects overdrafts and other outcomes

Abstract

Despite a dozen studies, the welfare effects of payday credit are still debatable. We contribute new evidence to the debate by studying how payday credit access affects bank overdrafts (such as returned checks), bankruptcy, and household complaints against lenders and debt collectors.We find some evidence that Chapter 13 bankruptcy rates decrease after payday credit bans, but where we find that, we also find that complaints against lenders and debt collectors increase. The welfare implications of these offsetting movements are unclear. Our most robust finding is that returned check numbers and overdraft fee income at banks increase after payday credit bans. Bouncing a check may cost more than a payday loan, so this finding suggests that payday credit access helps households avoid costlier alternatives. While our findings obviously do not settle the welfare debate over payday lending, we hope they resolve it to some extent it by illuminating how households rearrange their financial affairs when payday loan supply changes.

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Michael R.
Strain

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