The Effects of Redlining Maps: a Novel Estimation Strategy

Grant Type: doctoral

Grant Year: 2021

Grant Amount: $15,000

Grant description:

This project investigates the causal effects of discriminatory assessment practices introduced by the New Deal-era federal agency, the Home Owners’ Loan Corporation. Specifically, the two researchers plan to examine HOLC’s systematic evaluation of neighborhoods and the maps it produced based on credit risk. Research has already led to the understanding that HOLC practices were a type of institutional discrimination. Data collected by the two researchers show that in 1930, about 86 percent of Black Americans lived in areas deemed hazardous (denoted in red on the maps, hence the term “redlining”) while almost 98 percent of the population in higher-rated areas was White. This research will measure how grade assignments affected the evolution of home values, income composition, and residential segregation in the short run and the long run. They will tackle the question by exploiting the fact that only cities over a certain population threshold were affected by the program. They will utilize a machine-learning algorithm to compare redlined neighborhoods with those that would have been redlined had the city been large enough to be affected by the program.

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