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Fed/GFLEC Financial Literacy Seminar Series

October 10, 2019

3:30 PM - 5:00 PM

Seminar I | Do Neighborhoods Affect Credit Market Decisions of Low-Income Borrowers?

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Cindy Soo

Assistant Professor of Finance, University of Michigan Ross School of Business


George Washington University School of Business
Duquès Hall, Minerva Room (451)
2201 G Street NW
(main entrance on 22nd Street between G and H Streets)


Bio: Cindy Soo

Cindy Soo is an Assistant Professor of Finance at the University of Michigan Ross School of Business, where she teaches real estate finance. Her research interests include household finance, real estate, and behavioral economics, and particularly focuses on understanding what impacts the financial decision making of low income borrowers. Cindy received a PhD from the University of Pennsylvania in 2013 and BA from Emory University in 2005.


This paper isolates the causal impact of neighborhood environment on low-income credit decisions by analyzing the participants of the Moving to Opportunity (MTO) experiment. MTO was a unique, large-scale experiment that offered families vouchers to move to better neighborhoods via randomized lottery. We find better neighborhood environments lead to increased credit access and use, with the largest impacts concentrated among participants who were required to move to the lowest poverty areas as young children. We find adults who received vouchers but were allowed to move to neighborhoods of their choice experience the greatest improvements in delinquency and debt behaviors.