Date of Award




Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Department of Sociology

Content Description

1 online resource (iii, xii, 275 pages) : illustrations (some color)

Dissertation/Thesis Chair

Nancy A Denton

Committee Members

Samantha Friedman, Scott South


Discrimination, Ethnicity, Housing, Mortgage, Multilevel Modeling, Race, Discrimination in banking, Discrimination in mortgage loans, Discrimination in housing, Subprime mortgage loans, Bank loans, Recessions, Global Financial Crisis, 2008-2009

Subject Categories

Public Policy | Sociology | Statistics and Probability


The dissertation analyzes multilevel models to predict mortgage origination and the allocation of subprime credit pre-and-post Great Recession. With representative samples from two full years of mortgage applications filed in the top 100 U.S. metropolitan areas, the dissertation uncovers evidence of persistent disparities by race and neighborhood minority concentration despite controls for socioeconomic, demographic, assimilation and housing variables. Mortgage outcomes varied by applicant race, neighborhood racial composition and neighborhood racial change. Findings suggest evidence of Fair Housing Act violations and disparate impacts towards minority homebuyers and minority neighborhoods. Results lend support for spatial assimilation theories in explaining much of the gap white-Asian gap and non-Hispanic white-Hispanic gap. Notable gaps remain between blacks and whites that are better explained by the place stratification model. In both 2004 and 2010 black, Asian and Hispanic prospective homebuyers were less likely to originate their mortgage relative to whites. In the earlier 2004 mortgage sample, black and Hispanic borrowers were much more likely to take out subprime loans relative to whites and Asians less likely. In 2010, the results held that black homebuyers were more likely than whites to take on subprime mortgages and Asian homebuyers less likely. The applicant coefficient for Hispanic was not a significant predictor of subprime in 2010. Asian homebuyers were indeed at a disadvantage relative to white homebuyers, both before and after the Great Recession and the disparity did not change significantly over time. Women were more likely than men to be denied mortgages and also to obtain subprime mortgages. Black neighborhoods were disadvantaged in 2004 and 2010, and increasing numbers of black neighbors reduced the likelihood of mortgage origination in 2004, but not in 2010. In 2004 and 2010, the presence of Asian and Hispanic neighbors increased the likelihood of mortgage origination but neighborhood racial ethnic change was less well received—with negative impacts for increasing numbers of Asian neighbors in both years and reduced mortgage odds for increasingly Hispanic neighborhoods in 2010. Neighborhoods with concentrated single mother households experienced disinvestment including denied mortgages and higher likelihood of subprime status when lenders infuse mortgage capital, though the effect size was very small. The research overcomes limitations of previous studies by employing advanced methods which account for neighborhood effects and by incorporating dynamic measures such as house-price-to-income ratios and regional credit score averages. The primary novel contribution of the dissertation is that this is the first study to examine the effect of neighborhood racial ethnic change on mortgage outcomes and the allocation of subprime mortgage credit. Explicit Fair Housing Act violations spur recommendations for reducing unequal disbursement of mortgage credit by race and gender, most importantly, by urging American schools to provide compulsory primary school coursework in financial literacy.