The Effect of Bank Failures on Small Business Loans and Income Inequality

Using variation in the timing and location of branches of failed banks we analyze its effect on income inequality. Employing a difference-in-differences specification we find that bank failures increased the GINI by 0.3 units (or 0.7%). We show that the rise in inequality is due to a decrease in the incomes of the poor that outpaces declines of the rest. We further show that individuals with lower levels of education exhibit a relatively greater decline in real wages and weekly hours worked. Exploring channels of transmission, we find income inequality is explained by a general decline in small business loans. This in turn reduces net new small business formation and their job creation capacity, a sector that hires a substantial share of low-income earners.

01. January 2023

Authors Salvador Contreras Amit Ghosh Iftekhar Hasan

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Professor Iftekhar Hasan, PhD
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