An Empirical History of the United States Postal Savings System

40 Pages Posted: 8 Jan 2019

See all articles by Steven Sprick Schuster

Steven Sprick Schuster

Colgate University

Matthew Jaremski

Utah State University - Huntsman School of Business; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Elisabeth Perlman

U.S. Census Bureau

Multiple version iconThere are 2 versions of this paper

Date Written: November 1, 2018

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 heavily used postal savings.

Keywords: Postal Savings Banks, Commercial Banking, Savings, Bank Competition, Unbanked, under-banked

JEL Classification: N22, G21, H42

Suggested Citation

Sprick Schuster, Steven and Jaremski, Matthew and Perlman, Elisabeth, An Empirical History of the United States Postal Savings System (November 1, 2018). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3306033 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3306033

Steven Sprick Schuster (Contact Author)

Colgate University ( email )

13 Oak Drive
Hamilton NY 13346, NY 13346
United States

Matthew Jaremski

Utah State University - Huntsman School of Business ( email )

3500 Old Main Hill
Logan, UT 84322-3500
United States

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) ( email )

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Elisabeth Perlman

U.S. Census Bureau ( email )

4600 Silver Hill Road
D.C., WA 20233
United States

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