NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
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Elisabeth Ruth Perlman

Center for Economic Studies
U.S. Census Bureau
4600 Silver Hill Road
Suitland, MD 20746

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Institutional Affiliation: Bureau of the Census

NBER Working Papers and Publications

May 2019An Empirical History of the United States Postal Savings System
with Steven Sprick Schuster, Matthew Jaremski: w25812
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.
 
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