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“IT DEPENDS”: HOW DISCRETION IN THE FINANCIAL SYSTEM CONTRIBUTES TO EXCLUSION AND MARGINALIZATION.

December 2018 - December 2019

Poverty and inequality have many dimensions. Lack of access to credit and routine banking precludes households and entire communities from full participation in the economy and is a fundamental, albeit understudied, aspect of poverty. Frontline financial service employees make discretionary decisions that contribute to lack of access to credit and routine banking services. Discretionary decisions— particularly those acted out in racialized and classist ways—erode customers’ trust in and reduce the legitimacy of these essential institutions. This risks further alienating marginalized groups from services that could be used to manage resources and exposing them to high-cost predatory lenders. Along these lines, this proposal aims to investigate how discretionary decisions can contribute to the marginalization of consumers of color and lower-income white consumers.

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