PurposeThe purpose of this paper is to identify bank deserts in the USA in 2009 and 2015, separately for inner city, suburban, and rural areas. It also identifies correlations between bank deserts, population characteristics, market competition, and payday lending restrictions, both cross-sectionally and over time.Design/methodology/approachFDIC data on bank office locations are used to identify bank deserts, defined as the 5 percent of census tracts with the greatest distance from the centroid to the nearest office. Those data are matched to both American Community Survey data to identify population characteristics, to a list of states with payday lending prohibitions, and to levels of market competition. An alternative measure of bank deserts corrects for population density. Geography is analyzed, mean characteristics compared, and random effects regressions capture static and dynamic correlates.FindingsPopulation density explains approximately half of bank distance variance. Bank deserts appear more often in southern and western states, and expanded significantly in inner cities while contracting in rural areas. Regression results suggest that African Americans were overall and increasingly likely to live in bank deserts and Native Americans were overall more likely to live in rural bank deserts. Rural poverty is linked to bank deserts, and the effects of competition are complex.Practical implicationsThe space for policy intervention exists in African American inner cities and Native American rural communities.Originality/valueThe relative measure of bank deserts is novel, as are dynamic estimates and random effects analysis of correlates.
Journal of Economic Studies – Emerald Publishing
Published: Sep 10, 2018
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