Supersedes Working Paper 16-15 - Is Bigger Necessarily Better in Community Banking? 

Community banks have potential advantages in relationship lending compared with large banks. However, increases in regulatory compliance and technological burdens may have disproportionately increased community banks’ costs, raising concerns about small businesses’ access to credit. Our evidence suggests that (1) the average costs related to regulatory compliance and technology decrease with size; (2) while small community banks exhibit relatively more valuable investment opportunities, larger community banks and midsize banks exploit theirs more efficiently and achieve better financial performance; (3) unlike small community banks, large community banks have financial incentives to increase lending to small businesses; and (4) for business lending and commercial real estate lending, large community banks and midsize banks assume higher inherent credit risk and exhibit more efficient lending. Thus, concern that small business lending would be adversely affected if small community banks find it beneficial to increase their scale is not supported by our results.