Does Community Access to Alternative Financial Services Relate to Individuals’ Use of These Services? Beyond Individual Explanations
There is concern that the increasing number of alternative financial services in communities across the USA is risking individuals’ financial health by increasing their use of these high-cost services. To address this concern, this study used restricted-access, zip code data from nationally representative samples of adult individuals and examined associations between the density or concentration of alternative financial services within communities and individuals’ use of these services. The associations between community density and individuals’ use varied by annual household income: Communities’ higher density of alternative financial services was associated with the increased probability that modest- and highest-income individuals ever used these services, while higher density was associated with more chronic use among lowest-income individuals. State regulation that prohibited payday lenders had a protective association for modest- and highest-income individuals but had no effect for lowest-income individuals. Policy implications are discussed.
KeywordsAlternative financial services Payday lenders Collective efficacy National Financial Capability Study (NFCS)
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