Center on Assets, Education, and Inclusion

  1. Can Post Offices Increase Access to Financial Services?

    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. 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 US, we compared the concentrations or densities of bank and credit union branches, AFS, and post offices.

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    Citation

    Despard, M., Friedline, T., & Refior, K. (2017). Can post offices increase access to financial services? A geographic investigation of financial services availability. Lawrence, KS: University of Kansas, Center on Assets, Education, & Inclusion (AEDI).

    Authors

    Despard, Mathieu R., Friedline, Terri, Refior, Kevin

    Financial Inclusion Report Year 2017

  2. Do Metropolitan Areas have Equal Access to Banking?

    Metropolitan areas are places where the majority of residents in the US live and work. Each of these areas has unique features regarding education, employment, public transit options, arts, recreation, and worship opportunities. Each metropolitan area also has a unique financial services landscape – a mix of both mainstream and alternative financial services, which may offer households different types of products and services to help manage resources and make ends meet.

    While prior research has examined the geo-spatial distribution of mainstream and alternative financial services within particular cities and metropolitan areas, little is known about how the availability of these services varies across metropolitan areas for the entire country. For instance, what is the availability of financial services in the Kansas City area, where the “snowbelt” city’s poverty rate is slightly higher than the national average, 30% of residents are Black, the population is growing, and the Federal Reserve and FDIC both have branches? And, how does the availability of Kansas City area’s financial services compare to that of the Detroit area, where the “rustbelt” city’s poverty rate is nearly three times the national average, 83% of residents are Black, the population is shrinking, and major manufacturing companies are closing? Or the Riverside, CA area, a “sunbelt” city located in the San Joaquin Valley with an agriculture-based economy, a poverty rate that is higher than the national average, and a Latino population of 48%? Variation in this availability may indicate that households living in different communities have greater or lesser access to financial services to promote financial stability.

    Using financial services and community demographic data for 356 metropolitan statistical areas (MSAs) across the US, we compared the concentrations or densities of bank and credit union branches and alternative financial services.

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    Citation

    Despard, M., & Friedline, T. (2017). Do metropolitan areas have equal access to banking? A geographic investigation of financial services availability. Lawrence, KS: University of Kansas, Center on Assets, Education, & Inclusion (AEDI).

    Authors

    Despard, Mathieu R., Friedline, Terri

    Financial Inclusion Report Year 2017

  3. Investing in the Future

    Households need access to financial services that enhance their long-term financial health by providing opportunities to accumulate assets and build credit. Under this purview, banks and credit unions can be used for future investment, and alternative financial service (AFS) providers have been heavily critiqued for their role in undermining households’ long-term financial health. The types of financial services available within the community may be associated with financial health, improving or impeding a household’s ability to invest in the future, maintain a manageable level of debt, and achieve long-term goals.

    This study used 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. We used two measures of financial services: the numbers of financial services per 1,000 population, or densities, and the composition of financial services densities relative to one another. We explored these associations by income as the availability of financial services within communities varies based on household income levels.

    The findings from this study are not intended to be used for drawing clear prescriptions about building brick-and-mortar branches in communities. Instead, these findings offer preliminary understandings of whether the availability of financial services in communities relates to households’ financial health, for which households, and under what conditions.

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    Citation

    Friedline, T., Despard, M., & West, S. (2017). Investing in the future: A geographic investigation of brick-and-mortar financial services and households’ financial health. Lawrence, KS: University of Kansas, Center on Assets, Education, & Inclusion (AEDI).

    Authors

    Friedline, Terri, Despard, Mathieu R., West, Stacia

    Financial Inclusion Report Year 2017

  4. Navigating Day-to-Day Finances

    A household with good financial health owns basic financial products and uses these products to navigate their day-to-day financial needs, such as managing and paying their bills. However, one potential pitfall that households may face as they try to navigate their finances is that certain types of financial services may not be readily available in the communities where they live. For example, the availability of banks, credit unions, or alternative financial service (AFS) providers in a household’s community may be limited. Hence, a household may be drawn to certain types of financial services that may improve or impede their ability to sustain good financial health, depending on the services that are most geographically convenient.

    This study used 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. We used two measures of financial services: the numbers of financial services per 1,000 population, or densities, and the composition of financial services densities relative to one another. We explored these associations by income as the availability of financial services within communities varies based on household income levels.

    The findings from this study are not intended to be used for drawing clear prescriptions about building brick-and-mortar branches in communities. Instead, these findings offer preliminary understandings of whether the availability of financial services in communities relates to households’ financial health, for which households, and under what conditions.

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    Citation

    Friedline, T., Despard, M., & West, S. (2017). Navigating day-to-day finances: A geographic investigation of brick-and-mortar financial services and households’ financial health. Lawrence, KS: University of Kansas, Center on Assets, Education, & Inclusion (AEDI).

    Authors

    Friedline, Terri, Despard, Mathieu R., West, Stacia

    Financial Inclusion Report Year 2017

  5. Resilient in the Midst of Financial Change

    A household’s ability to adjust to changing financial circumstances provides evidence of good financial health and demonstrates their resilience in the face of unexpected financial emergencies. To reinforce their resilience, households may use savings, credit, and insurance from financial services such as banks, credit unions, and alternative financial service (AFS) providers. The types of financial services available within the community may be associated with resilience, improving or impeding a household’s ability to save for emergencies or access credit.

    This study used 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. We explored these associations by income given that households may be exposed to varying densities of financial services within communities based on their income levels.

    The findings from this study are not intended to be used for drawing clear prescriptions about building brick-and-mortar branches in communities. Instead, these findings offer preliminary understandings of whether the availability of financial services in communities relates to households’ financial health, for which households, and under what conditions.

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    Citation

    Friedline, T., Despard, M., & West, S. (2017). Resilient in the midst of financial change: A geographic investigation of brick-and-mortar financial services and households’ financial health. Lawrence, KS: University of Kansas, Center on Assets, Education, & Inclusion (AEDI).

    Authors

    Friedline, Terri, Despard, Mathieu R., West, Stacia

    Financial Inclusion Report Year 2017

  6. Preventive policy strategy for banking the unbanked: Savings accounts for teenagers

    Citation

    Friedline, T., Despard, M., & Chowa, G. (2015). Preventive policy strategy for banking the unbanked: Savings accounts for teenagers? Journal of Poverty.

    Authors

    Friedline, Terri, Despard, Mathieu R., Chowa, Gina A.N.

    Financial Inclusion Journal Article Year 2015