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Understanding Bank Runs: The Importance of Depositor-Bank Relationships and Networks


  • Rajkamal Iyer
  • Manju Puri


We use unique depositor-level data for a bank that faced a run to understand the factors that affect depositor behavior. We find uninsured depositors are most likely to run. Deposit insurance helps, but is only partially effective. Bank-depositor relationships mitigate runs, suggesting that relationship with depositors help banks reduce fragility. In addition, we also find that social networks matter. Finally, we find long-term effects of a solvent bank run in that depositors who run do not return back to the bank. Our results help understand the underlying dynamics of bank runs and hold important policy implications. (JEL D12, G21, O16, Z13)

Suggested Citation

  • Rajkamal Iyer & Manju Puri, 2012. "Understanding Bank Runs: The Importance of Depositor-Bank Relationships and Networks," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 102(4), pages 1414-1445, June.
  • Handle: RePEc:aea:aecrev:v:102:y:2012:i:4:p:1414-45

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Saunders, Anthony & Wilson, Berry, 1996. "Contagious Bank Runs: Evidence from the 1929-1933 Period," Journal of Financial Intermediation, Elsevier, vol. 5(4), pages 409-423, October.
    2. Dell'Ariccia, Giovanni & Detragiache, Enrica & Rajan, Raghuram, 2008. "The real effect of banking crises," Journal of Financial Intermediation, Elsevier, vol. 17(1), pages 89-112, January.
    3. Charles F. Manski, 1993. "Identification of Endogenous Social Effects: The Reflection Problem," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 60(3), pages 531-542.
    4. Yehning Chen, 1999. "Banking Panics: The Role of the First-Come, First-Served Rule and Information Externalities," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 107(5), pages 946-968, October.
    5. Mathias Dewatripont & Lars Peter Hansen & Stephen Turnovsky, 2003. "Advances in Economics and Econometrics: Theory and Applications, Eighth World Congress," ULB Institutional Repository 2013/176003, ULB -- Universite Libre de Bruxelles.
    6. Bryant, John, 1980. "A model of reserves, bank runs, and deposit insurance," Journal of Banking & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 4(4), pages 335-344, December.
    7. Itay Goldstein & Ady Pauzner, 2005. "Demand-Deposit Contracts and the Probability of Bank Runs," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 60(3), pages 1293-1327, June.
    8. Fenghua Song & Anjan V. Thakor, 2007. "Relationship Banking, Fragility, and the Asset-Liability Matching Problem," Review of Financial Studies, Society for Financial Studies, vol. 20(6), pages 2129-2177, November.
    9. Esther Duflo & Emmanuel Saez, 2003. "The Role of Information and Social Interactions in Retirement Plan Decisions: Evidence from a Randomized Experiment," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 118(3), pages 815-842.
    10. Anil K. Kashyap & Raghuram Rajan & Jeremy C. Stein, 2002. "Banks as Liquidity Providers: An Explanation for the Coexistence of Lending and Deposit-Taking," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 57(1), pages 33-73, February.
    11. Ongena, Steven & Smith, David C. & Michalsen, Dag, 2003. "Firms and their distressed banks: lessons from the Norwegian banking crisis," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 67(1), pages 81-112, January.
    12. Postlewaite, Andrew & Vives, Xavier, 1987. "Bank Runs as an Equilibrium Phenomenon," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 95(3), pages 485-491, June.
    13. Douglas W. Diamond & Philip H. Dybvig, 2000. "Bank runs, deposit insurance, and liquidity," Quarterly Review, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis, issue Win, pages 14-23.
    14. Jacklin, Charles J & Bhattacharya, Sudipto, 1988. "Distinguishing Panics and Information-Based Bank Runs: Welfare and Policy Implications," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 96(3), pages 568-592, June.
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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • D12 - Microeconomics - - Household Behavior - - - Consumer Economics: Empirical Analysis
    • G21 - Financial Economics - - Financial Institutions and Services - - - Banks; Other Depository Institutions; Micro Finance Institutions; Mortgages
    • O16 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Financial Markets; Saving and Capital Investment; Corporate Finance and Governance
    • Z13 - Other Special Topics - - Cultural Economics - - - Economic Sociology; Economic Anthropology; Language; Social and Economic Stratification


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