A new report from Gallup and the World Bank reveals another dimension in which America is a world leader in inequality — access to bank accounts.
According to the report, "In Canada, France, Germany, Japan, and the United Kingdom there is no significant difference in account penetration between adults in the poorest 40 percent of households and those in the richest 60 percent." But in the United States, there's an 11 percentage point gap, leaving lower-income American households much more likely to be unbanked than comparable households in other developed countries.
This would just be a wacky trivia fact, except lack of access to bank accounts is one of these ways in which it's expensive to be poor. People who don't have bank accounts find themselves stuck getting paid via high-fee prepaid debit cars, having difficulty establishing a credit rating, and paying high fees at check cashing joints.
Eliminating these inequities in access to basic financial services is one key argument in favor of Postal Banking — using the US Postal Service to provide basic utility-like services for small dollar accounts.