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The Size Distribution of US Banks and Credit Unions


  • John Goddard
  • Hong Liu
  • Donal Mckillop
  • John O.S. Wilson


This study examines the firm size distribution of US banks and credit unions. A truncated lognormal distribution describes the size distribution, measured using assets data, of a large population of small, community-based commercial banks. The size distribution of a smaller but increasingly dominant cohort of large banks, which operate a high-volume low-cost retail banking model, exhibits power-law behaviour. There is a progressive increase in skewness over time, and Zipf's Law is rejected as a descriptor of the size distribution in the upper tail. By contrast, the asset size distribution of the population of credit unions conforms closely to the lognormal distribution .

Suggested Citation

  • John Goddard & Hong Liu & Donal Mckillop & John O.S. Wilson, 2014. "The Size Distribution of US Banks and Credit Unions," International Journal of the Economics of Business, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 21(1), pages 139-156, February.
  • Handle: RePEc:taf:ijecbs:v:21:y:2014:i:1:p:139-156
    DOI: 10.1080/13571516.2013.835970

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Donald P. Morgan & Kevin J. Stiroh, 2005. "Too big to fail after all these years," Staff Reports 220, Federal Reserve Bank of New York.
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    Cited by:

    1. Lina Cortés & Juan M. Lozada & Javier Perote, 2019. "Firm size and concentration inequality: A flexible extension of Gibrat’s law," Documentos de Trabajo CIEF 017205, Universidad EAFIT.
    2. Vandermarliere, Benjamin & Karas, Alexei & Ryckebusch, Jan & Schoors, Koen, 2015. "Beyond the power law: Uncovering stylized facts in interbank networks," Physica A: Statistical Mechanics and its Applications, Elsevier, vol. 428(C), pages 443-457.
    3. Cortés, Lina M. & Mora-Valencia, Andrés & Perote, Javier, 2017. "Measuring firm size distribution with semi-nonparametric densities," Physica A: Statistical Mechanics and its Applications, Elsevier, vol. 485(C), pages 35-47.
    4. repec:spr:eurasi:v:8:y:2018:i:4:d:10.1007_s40821-017-0096-2 is not listed on IDEAS

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