A new study has revealed some apparent differences in the success rate of female and male mortgage applicants. The Woodstock Institute, a non-profit research organization, conducted a study based on Home Mortgage Disclosure Act (HMDA) data in the six county Chicago region and found that applications for either purchasing or refinancing a home were less likely to be approved if submitted by a female. The same was true of applications submitted by a female with a male cosigner when compared to applications from a male applicant with a female cosigner.

“We would expect to see no significant difference in the origination rates for male-headed joint applications and female-headed joint applications, since the backgrounds of both borrowers on joint applications are considered by mortgage lenders,” said Spencer Cowan, vice president of research at Woodstock Institute. “The fact that there are such large disparities raises troubling questions about potentially discriminatory underwriting.”

The Institute says that the wealth gap between men and women is well documented; one study showed that single women between the ages of 18 and 64 have a median wealth that is 49 percent of that for single men and 12 percent of the median for couples. The differences for women of color are even greater. That same study suggests that the wealth gap would persist even if the gap in income between men and women and between whites and persons of color did not exist.

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