42 Pages Posted: 19 Feb 2009 Last revised: 25 Feb 2009
Date Written: January 2009
I ask whether access to high-interest credit (payday loans) exacerbates or mitigates individual financial distress. Using natural disasters as an exogenous shock, I apply a propensity score matched, triple difference specification to identify a causal relationship between access-to-credit and welfare. I find that California foreclosures increase after disasters, but the existence of payday lenders mitigates half of the distress impact (1.2 foreclosures per 1,000 homes). Lenders also mitigate 2.67 larcenies per 1,000 households with no effect on burglaries or vehicle thefts. My methodology demonstrates that my results apply to ordinary personal emergencies, with the caveat that it may be that not all payday loan customers borrow for emergencies.
Keywords: payday lending, payday loans, natural disasters, triple differencing
JEL Classification: G23, D12, E21, R20
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation
By Michael Barr