The Project on Racial Inequality
and Financial Access

Structure and Space

Space matters to racial inequality. In minority neighborhoods, access to conventional banks is often limited relative to access to check cashers and payday lenders. Such asymmetries may affect where people turn to meet their financial needs, whether they build wealth, and how they accumulate debt. This study uses near-complete data on conventional and financial institutions across much of the U.S., cell phone data on travel patterns across U.S. cities, and interviews with decision-makers in the financial service sector to understand the ecology of financial services across neighborhoods, its precursors, and some of its consequences.

Information for Participants

Understanding how banks, credit unions, payday lenders, and others decide where to locate their businesses can help social scientists, companies, policymakers, and the public at large understand access to financial services in cities and towns across the country. Interviews with key decision-makers in the financial service sector include open-ended questions about what they think about the primary customer base of the business, how to reach them, how the company identifies a business location, and what they have learned about the customers and the advantages and disadvantages of different locations.