The Project on Racial Inequality
and Financial Access

People and Outcomes

People with immediate needs for cash often turn to payday lenders. Payday loans are short-term, high-interest loans available immediately, usually without a credit check. Lenders traditionally charge high-interest rates and can trap people in cycles of debt. While many states have recently moved to restrict payday lending, the benefits for low-income borrowers remain unclear, particularly for those with few better alternatives. Using nationally representative survey data on U.S. adults and in-depth, open-ended interviews, this study examines how people think about and are affected by borrowing from payday lenders, conventional banks and credit unions, friends and family, and other sources given their state regulatory and structural contexts in which they live.

Information for Participants

Understanding how people make financial decisions, especially in contexts with different regulations of payday lenders, can help social scientists, companies, policymakers, and the public at large understand the regulation of financial services and its impact on borrowers. Interviews will take place with one or more members of the research team based at Columbia University and include open-ended questions about your experience with banks, borrowing decisions, credit, debt, payday lenders, and how you make financial decisions. Participation in this study will involve approximately one hour of your time and be held by phone or Zoom (audio only) based on your preference. This study is not interested in any particular individuals, only in aggregate patterns.  Thus, we will not record personal identifiers in audio recordings or transcripts, and your personal information will only be stored and used for contact purposes.