An Empirical History of the United States Postal Savings System

41 Pages Posted: 7 May 2019 Last revised: 12 Jul 2021

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 Ruth Perlman

Government of the United States of America - Bureau of the Census

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Date Written: May 2019

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

Sprick Schuster, Steven and Jaremski, Matthew and Perlman, Elisabeth Ruth, An Empirical History of the United States Postal Savings System (May 2019). NBER Working Paper No. w25812, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3383311

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 Ruth Perlman

Government of the United States of America - Bureau of the Census

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