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Love & loans: the effect of beauty and personal characteristics in credit markets,’ SSRN Working Paper 1101647

By Enrichetta Ravina, Suggestions Paul Gabriel, Jeff Galak, Ami Gokli, Amelia Munro, Harshi Patel and Dawei Qian


I examine whether easily observable variables such as beauty, race, and the way a loan applicant presents himself affect lenders ’ decisions, once hard financial information about credit scores, employment history, homeownership, and other financial information are taken into account. I use data from Prosper.com, a 150 million dollars online lending market in which borrowers post loan requests that include verifiable financial information, photos, an offered interest rate, and related context. Borrowers whose beauty is rated above average are 1.41 percentage points more likely to get a loan and, given a loan, pay 81 basis points less than an average-looking borrower with the same credentials. Black borrowers pay between 139 and 146 basis points more than otherwise similar White borrowers, although they are not more likely to become delinquent. Similarity between borrowers and lenders has also a powerful impact on lenders ’ decisions. In my sample personal characteristics are not, all else equal, significantly related to subsequent delinquency rates- with the exception of beauty, which is associated with substantially higher delinquency probability. The findings are consistent with personal characteristics affecting loan supply through lenders ’ preferences (taste-based discrimination a la Becker) and perception, rather than statistical discrimination based on inferences from their previous experience

Topics: Beauty, Credit Markets, Discrimination I would like to thank Gianluca Clementi, Michael Fein, Todd Gormley, Harrison Hong, Camelia Kuhnen
Year: 2008
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