Panel Paper: Sexual Orientation, Gender, Pregnancy, and Family Composition Discrimination in Mortgage Lending: Evidence from a Correspondence Field Experiment

Saturday, November 10, 2018
8216 - Lobby Level (Marriott Wardman Park)

*Names in bold indicate Presenter

Catherine Balfe1, Patrick Button1 and David Schwegman2, (1)Tulane University, (2)Syracuse University

This paper utilizes an email correspondence experiment to test if mortgage loan originators discriminate against credit-worthy individuals based on their sexual orientation and/or their family structure. We send emails requesting information about home loans to licensed mortgage loan originators (MLOs) in the United States. The emails come from fictitious couples who are either same-sex or opposite-sex couples with and without young children, as well as heterosexual and lesbian couples expecting children. We signal for sexual orientation by including the names of both the prospective borrower and his or her spouse. In addition to signaling sexual orientation and family structure, we signal credit worthiness (through employment status, credit score, income, etc.) of each potential applicant. We test for differential treatment by MLOs by comparing response quality and response rates. We then quantify the cost of disclosing sexual orientation and/or family structure when applying for a mortgage.

Full Paper: