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An Empirical History of the United States Postal Savings System

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  • Steven Sprick Schuster
  • Matthew Jaremski
  • Elisabeth Ruth Perlman

Abstract

Seeking to reach the unbanked, the United States Postal Savings System provided a federally insured savings alternative to traditional banks. Using novel datasets on postal deposits, demographic characteristics, and banks, we study how and by whom the System was used. We find the program was initially used by non-farming immigrant populations for short-term saving, then as a safe haven during the Great Depression, and finally as long-term investment for the wealthy during the 1940s. However, even during the earliest period, Postal Savings was only a partial substitute for traditional banks, as locations with banks often still heavily used postal savings.

Suggested Citation

  • Steven Sprick Schuster & Matthew Jaremski & Elisabeth Ruth Perlman, 2019. "An Empirical History of the United States Postal Savings System," NBER Working Papers 25812, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:25812
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Haelim Anderson & Charles W. Calomiris & Matthew Jaremski & Gary Richardson, 2018. "Liquidity Risk, Bank Networks, and the Value of Joining the Federal Reserve System," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 50(1), pages 173-201, February.
    2. Kuwayama, Patricia-Hagan, 2000. "Postal Banking in the United States and Japan: A Comparative Analysis," Monetary and Economic Studies, Institute for Monetary and Economic Studies, Bank of Japan, vol. 18(1), pages 73-104, May.
    3. Milton Friedman & Anna Jacobson Schwartz, 1970. "Monetary Statistics of the United States: Estimates, Sources, Methods," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number frie70-1, May.
    4. Milton Friedman & Anna Jacobson Schwartz, 1970. "Introduction to "Monetary Statistics of the United States: Estimates, Sources, Methods"," NBER Chapters, in: Monetary Statistics of the United States: Estimates, Sources, Methods, pages 1-85, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • G21 - Financial Economics - - Financial Institutions and Services - - - Banks; Other Depository Institutions; Micro Finance Institutions; Mortgages
    • H42 - Public Economics - - Publicly Provided Goods - - - Publicly Provided Private Goods
    • N22 - Economic History - - Financial Markets and Institutions - - - U.S.; Canada: 1913-

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