Honors Theses

Date of Award


Document Type

Undergraduate Thesis



First Advisor

Joshua Hendrickson

Relational Format



Payday lending is a highly contentious form of credit. Consumer advocates often argue for strict regulation or complete banning of the industry based on the idea that payday lending rates are usurious. Providers of payday loans argue that their product offers access to credit that would not be available otherwise. In order to reconcile this debate, I analyze financial data on the largest payday lender in the country Advance America. Furthermore, I examine the 2008 Arkansas payday lending law to analyze the impact of the ban on bounced check fees, overdraft charges, and Non-Sufficient Funds charges at state chartered Arkansas banks. I show that, contrary to the conventional wisdom, margins in the payday lending market are actually quite slim with Advance America profiting only $2.10 per $100 lent during the most profitable year in the data set. Secondly, I show that following the Arkansas payday loan ban, income from service charges at banks in the state rose by an average of $390,000 per quarter. This analysis adds credence to the argument that bank fees may be substitutable for payday loans and questions whether or not payday lending bans are welfare improving.

Included in

Economics Commons



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