While often discussed, the community infrastructure that creates the conditions for financial inclusion is rarely measured—meaning that its potential influence on financial inclusion efforts can be invisible. This project assesses how infrastructure at the zip code level relates to financial inclusion using Esri Geographic Information Systems (GIS) and restricted-use zip code files from nationally representative panel data. Below are report versions of the project findings:
This report uses data on financial services, individual/household and community demographics (including smartphone use), and household financial health to test whether the geographic concentrations or densities of bank and credit union branches and AFS providers within communities were associated with households’ financial health.
Postal banking through the US 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. Using financial services and community demographic data for 31,489 zip codes across the US, we compared the concentrations or densities of bank and credit union branches, AFS, and post offices.
Based on this report’s findings—that consumers may not be able to afford entry-level checking accounts at most banks, may experience discrimination in being charged overdraft fees, and may not have banking services in their native languages—the protections available through Dodd-Frank and the CFPB are needed now more than ever.