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The Importance of Check-Cashing Businesses to the Unbanked: Racial/Ethnic Differences

  • Sherrie L. W. Rhine

    (Federal Reserve Bank of New York)

  • William H. Greene

    (New York University)

  • Maude Toussaint-Comeau

    (Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago)

The roughly 9.1% of all U.S. families that are without some type of transaction account (unbanked) are disproportionately represented among minorities. The unbanked often must rely on alternative ways to carry out basic financial transactions such as cashing payroll checks and paying bills. This study analyzes unique survey data and finds that a consumer's decision to patronize check-cashing businesses is jointly made with the decision to be unbanked. For the unbanked, these businesses are an important source of financial services. Attributes that contribute to these decisions, however, vary with the racial/ethnic group. Latent preference effects are also observed to influence this joint decision for blacks and Hispanics. These findings may explain in part why the provisions of the Debt Collection Improvement Act (DCIA) of 1996 have not been more successful in bringing unbanked federal benefits recipients into the financial mainstream. Consumer participation in mainstream financial markets can improve their ability to build assets and create wealth, can protect them from theft and discriminatory, predatory, or otherwise unsavory lending practices, and may promote economic stability and vitality in the communities where they reside. By more fully understanding consumers' financial decisions, policies can be better directed to improve the effectiveness of legislation such as the DCIA of 1996 in encouraging mainstream financial market participation. © 2006 The President and Fellows of Harvard College and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

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File URL: http://www.mitpressjournals.org/doi/pdf/10.1162/rest.2006.88.1.146
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Article provided by MIT Press in its journal Review of Economics and Statistics.

Volume (Year): 88 (2006)
Issue (Month): 1 (February)
Pages: 146-157

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Handle: RePEc:tpr:restat:v:88:y:2006:i:1:p:146-157
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  1. Sherrie L.W. Rhine & Maude Toussaint-Comeau & Jeanne M. Hogarth & William H. Greene, 2001. "The role of alternative financial service providers in serving LMI neighborhoods," Proceedings 785, Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago.
  2. Edward S. Prescott & Daniel D. Tatar, 1999. "Means of payment, the unbanked, and EFT '99," Economic Quarterly, Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond, issue Fall, pages 49-70.
  3. Arthur B. Kennickell & Martha Starr-McCluer & Annika E. Sunden, 1997. "Family finances in the U.S.: recent evidence from the Survey of Consumer Finances," Federal Reserve Bulletin, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.), issue Jan, pages 1-24.
  4. Jong-Il Kim & Lawrence J. Lau, 1996. "The sources of Asian Pacific economic growth," Canadian Journal of Economics, Canadian Economics Association, vol. 29(s1), pages 448-54, April.
  5. Joseph J. Doyle & Jose A. Lopez & Marc R. Saidenberg, 1998. "How effective is lifeline banking in assisting the 'unbanked'?," Current Issues in Economics and Finance, Federal Reserve Bank of New York, vol. 4(Jun).
  6. Constance R. Dunham, 2001. "The role of banks and nonbanks in serving low- and moderate income communities," Proceedings 903, Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago.
  7. anonymous, 1999. "Banking relationships of lower-income families and the governmental trend toward electronic payment," Federal Reserve Bulletin, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.), issue Jul, pages 459-473.
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