Can Post Offices Increase Access to Financial Services?

A Geographic Investigation of Financial Services Availability

Postal Banking through the U.S. Postal Service has been recommended as one option for improving the availability of safe and affordable financial products and services in lower-income and minority communities. Advocates of postal banking suggest that post offices have maintained their presence in communities vacated by banks and credit unions and inundated by alternative financial service (AFS) providers. However, there have been few attempts to analyze data in order to test this assumption. Using financial services and community demographic data for 31,489 zip codes across the U.S., we compared the concentrations or densities of bank and credit union branches, AFS, and post offices.

ATTACHMENT:

Post Offices and Access to Financial Services

Authors:

Mathieu Despard is an assistant professor at the University of Michigan School of Social Work and a faculty associate with the Center on Assets, Education, and Inclusion at the University of Kansas School of Social Welfare and the Center for Social Development at Washington University in St. Louis. He can be contacted by email at mdespard@umich.edu or followed on Twitter @DespardMat.

Terri Friedline is the faculty director of financial inclusion at the Center on Assets, Education, and Inclusion, a research fellow at New America, and an assistant professor at the University of Kansas School of Social Welfare. She can be contacted by email at tfriedline@ku.edu or followed on Twitter @TerriFriedline.

Kevin Refior