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Thursday, May 21 • 2:45pm - 4:15pm
F1a Policies to Protect Financially Vulnerable Populations: A Look at the Military Lending Act

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In this paper, I use geospatial data on payday lending storefronts to assess a landmark federal policy initiative: the 2007 Military Lending Act (MLA), which created a federal interest rate cap on consumer loans to military members, and its 2016 revision. I ask whether the implementation of the 2007 and 2016 MLAs resulted in a reduction in the number of payday storefronts within military communities, leveraging state-level variation in payday lending laws. The 2007 analysis shows that the MLA alone had virtually no impact on reducing payday loan exposure in military communities. In contrast, state-wide restrictions capping interest rates for all consumers was effective in reducing payday lender presence in all communities across the state, including military areas. These initial findings suggest that MLA as implemented was a misaligned policy solution and that universal regulation may be most effective in reducing military exposure to subprime financial services. The 2016 MLA presents an opportunity to further test this working argument. By assessing the 2007 and 2016 MLA in tandem with broader state policies, this study provides insights on best paths forward for policymakers with regards to the structure and scope of consumer protection for financially vulnerable populations.

Author(s): Megan Doherty Bea


Megan Bea

Assistant Professor, University of Wisconsin-Madison

Thursday May 21, 2020 2:45pm - 4:15pm CDT
Room 1