African-American banks


Banking on African-American Business

With a new data set of banks owned and managed by African Americans from 1907 to 1930, I provide the first analysis of the contribution of African-American banks to the development of African-American communities. Economic progress is measured by business ownership, proxied by the number of African-Americans who reported employing at least one person, as well as white-collar occupations, mortgages, and home ownership. Fixed effects analysis shows that an additional African-American bank per ten thousand African-American adults in a county increased the share of African-Americans employing at least one person by 1.9 percentage points, one-and-a-half times the median rate. The effects on white-collar occupations and home ownership are positive but relatively small. Many of the effects are concentrated in the South. Overall, African-American banks made significant contributions to their communities, contrary to skepticism evinced in previous literature.

Examining Virginia’s Pre-WWII African American Banks

Using a new dataset of declassified Virginia bank examinations, this paper compares the banks owned and operated by African Americans before World War II to two samples of white banks. This comparison shows that African-American banks were smaller, less profitable, held fewer securities. African-American banks were more vulnerable to downturns in the real estate market. An analysis of the final fate of the banks in the data set show that African-American banks were more likely to fail, as white banks were unwilling to acquire African-American banks. Linking the employees, owners, and some customers of one African-American bank to city directories and the census of population shows that every employee, director, and borrower, save one, was African American. These two findings provide evidence that African-American banks faced a separate market from white banks.




The Disappearing Gay Income Penalty

Economics Letters, 2013 (with Purvi Sevak)

Since 1995, labor economists have reported on the income disparities between individuals who engage in same-sex behavior and those that do not. Many of these papers report a significant wage penalty, while others find no effect, but few look at the trend over time. We find, using National Health and Examination Survey (NHANES) data from 1988 to 2007, that the income gap has reversed over time from a penalty to a premium.

Other research projects


Newfoundland’s Two Transitions

This survey uses primary and secondary historical sources to summarize the extraordinary events in Newfoundland in the early twentieth century, as the self-governing dominion becomes the only nation to vote to end representative government, and later joins the Canadian federation.

Over-Investment and Over-Agreement in the Shadow of Conflict (with Barry Sopher)

This paper reports the results of a bargaining model that provides agents with a choice between production and protection in a setting with a winner-take-all disagreement point, and then examines this model by conducting a laboratory experiment. Using different endowments and different contest success functions, we find that, while the risk-neutral mutual best response predicts agent behavior well, most agents over-invest in preparing for disagreement. Additionally, we find that many agents compromise rather than engage in conflict, even when it is more profitable to do so. In the experiment, subjects agree approximately 40% of the time, much higher than the predicted rate of 0%.