Low-Income Borrowers and Payday Lenders: A Qualitative Study
This project explores how low-income people with immediate needs for cash make borrowing decisions in states where payday lending is heavily restricted versus states where it is not. It takes a qualitative approach to exploring the experiential processes that unfold across varying state policy contexts. As the author notes, there is a burgeoning line of scholarship on payday loans and states’ attempts to restrict them, but with mixed evidence on the effects on low-income borrowers. On one hand, these loans come with predatory lending rates that are often compounded for borrowers who are unable to pay back the loan in the original period and therefore roll it over, incurring more fees and often resulting in the borrower owing many times over what they originally received. On the other hand, credit is highly constrained for low-income individuals, with payday loans filling the gap. Yet there remains neither a consensus on the utility of such loans for low-income borrowers nor an understanding of how low-income individuals make decisions about borrowing. This gap limits policymakers from addressing the dual needs of credit access for low-income borrowers and the need to reduce the deleterious effects of payday lending, a gap this research will shed light on.