October 23, 2020 - Podcast

Episode 49—Blue light glasses, and home lending in Black neighborhoods

During the pandemic, our screen time has sharply increased, as many of us are working and learning from home as well as binge-watching TV. New research from Indiana University finds that wearing blue-light glasses just before sleeping can lead to a better night's sleep and contribute to a better day's work to follow. Most of the technology we commonly use -- such as computer screens, smartphones and tablets -- emits blue light, which past research has found can disrupt sleep. We’ve become highly dependent on these devices, especially as we navigate remote work and school during the coronavirus pandemic. Wearing blue-light-filtering glasses is an effective intervention to improve sleep, work engagement, and task performance, and reduce counterproductive work behavior, says Cristiano Guarana, assistant professor of management and entrepreneurship at the IU Kelley School of Business. The research found the effects of wearing blue-light-filtering glasses were stronger for 'night owls' than for 'morning larks’. Although most of us can benefit from reducing our exposure to blue light, Guarana says night owl employees seem to benefit more because they encounter greater misalignments between their internal clocks and externally controlled work time. The research also found that daily engagement and performance of tasks may be related to underlying biological processes such as the circadian process. A good night's sleep not only benefits workers, it also helps their employers' bottom lines, Guarana says. Control of blue-light exposure may be a viable first step for organizations to protect the circadian cycles of their employees from disruption.

In other news, a recent study by the IU Public Policy Institute found residents living in majority-Black neighborhoods in Marion County Indiana have a harder time obtaining home loans than those living in other neighborhoods. This data, says Joti Martin, a policy analyst at the Public Policy Institute, shows that Black residents, and even white or Hispanic residents, living in majority-Black neighborhoods often face barriers when trying to purchase a home. Although redlining—discrimination in banking and lending based on someone’s race or where they live—has been illegal since the Fair Housing Act passed in 1968, analysts for the institute found that inequities in home-loan lending still exist. They found that the county’s homeownership rate is 54% but only 42% in majority-Black neighborhoods. In majority-Black neighborhoods, the loan application rate, the rate at which people apply for a home loan, is 2%. It’s 3% in other neighborhoods. Furthermore, the loan denial rate is 11% compared with 7% in other neighborhoods. Martin says residents living in majority-Black neighborhoods often have higher poverty rates, and these neighborhoods tend to be low-income. Those factors can lead to poor credit histories and high debt loads that stand in the way of purchasing a home. Owning a home is one of the most important ways families can build wealth and increase their financial security, Martin says. Yet for far too many families of color, the dream of homeownership is out of reach because of inequities in home-lending practices. Experts says there are ways to increase home lending in these neighborhoods including lenders connecting residents to federal, state and local loan programs that offer affordability assistance; educating residents about managing financial resources and investing in practices, programs and partnerships that can build trusting relationships in majority-Black communities.