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Working Paper

The Community Reinvestment Act (CRA) and Bank Branching Patterns


Abstract: This paper examines the relationship between the Community Reinvestment Act (CRA) and bank branching patterns, measured by the risk of branch closure and the net loss of branches at the neighborhood level, in the aftermath of Great Recession. Between 2009 and 2017, there was a larger decline in the number of bank branches in lower-income neighborhoods than in more affluent ones, raising concerns about access to mainstream financial services. However, once we control for supply and demand factors that influence bank branching decisions, we find generally consistent evidence that the CRA is associated with a lower risk of branch closure, and the effects are stronger for neighborhoods with fewer branches, for larger banks, and for major metro areas. The CRA also reduces the risk of net bank losses in lower-income neighborhoods. The evidence from our analysis is consistent with the notion that the CRA helps banks meet the credit needs of underserved communities and populations by ensuring the continued presence of brick-and-mortar branches.

Keywords: Banking industry; Community Reinvestment Act; Branch; Regulation;

JEL Classification: G21; G34; L10;

https://doi.org/https://doi.org/10.21799/frbp.wp.2019.36

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Bibliographic Information

Provider: Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia

Part of Series: Working Papers

Publication Date: 2019-10-01

Number: 19-36

Pages: 34 pages