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Unequal Access to Credit

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Unequal Access to Credit

The Hidden Impact of Credit Constraints

Federal Reserve Bank of New York,

5 min read
3 take-aways
Text available

What's inside?

Access to credit enables economic security for individuals and financial resilience for communities.

Editorial Rating



  • Analytical
  • Overview
  • For Experts


Access to credit lets people take advantage of opportunities and helps ensure their financial security. But many individuals face barriers to obtaining credit, and that has a knock-on effect on their communities’ economic stability. Analysts at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York have designed a “Credit Insecurity Index” to provide a more accurate picture of a neighborhood’s financial well-being. Financial professionals and community leaders will find the index a useful tool in assessing an area’s financial health.


A community’s financial stability and its capacity to endure crises depend on the creditworthiness of its people.

In the United States, individuals’ access to credit determines their community’s eligibility to receive disaster-relief funds as well as investments to expand opportunities. Prevailing measures of community credit security include residents who maintain bank balances and credit scores. 

Individuals outside the mainstream banking markets, however, are excluded from the calculations. Such people often face serious obstacles to obtaining credit, such as poor credit ratings, a weak history of debt repayment...

About the Authors

Kausar Hamdani, Claire Kramer Mills, Edison Reyes and Jessica Battisto are analysts at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.

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