Racial Disparities in the Paycheck Protection Program
52 Pages Posted: 17 Feb 2022 Last revised: 14 Apr 2023
Date Written: February 2022
Using a large sample of Florida restaurants, we document significant racial disparities in borrowing through the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) and investigate the causes of these disparities. Black-owned restaurants are 25% less likely to receive PPP loans. Restaurant location explains 5 percentage points of this differential. Restaurant characteristics explain an additional 10 percentage points of the gap in PPP borrowing. On average, prior borrowing relationships do not explain disparities. The remaining 10% disparity is driven by a 17% disparity in PPP borrowing from banks, which is partially offset by greater borrowing from nonbanks, largely fintechs. Disparities in PPP borrowing cannot be attributed to lower awareness of PPP loans or lower demand for PPP loans by minority-owned restaurants. Black-owned restaurants are significantly less likely to receive bank PPP loans in counties with more racial bias. In these counties, Black-owned restaurants are more likely to substitute to nonbank PPP loans. This substitution, however, is not strong enough to eliminate racial disparities in PPP borrowing. Finally, we show that our findings apply more broadly across industries in a sample of firms that were likely eligible for PPP.
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