Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



Committee Chair/Advisor

Paul W. Wilson

Committee Member

Babur De los Santos

Committee Member

Devon Gorry

Committee Member

F. Andrew Hanssen

Committee Member

Matthew S. Lewis


I explore questions related to financial institutions, the accessibility of financial services, community development, and the political economy of forgiving student loans using the ideas from spatial economics, industrial organization, and public choice. Increased access to financial services improves the economic outcomes of individuals and firms in the community. Understanding sources leading to a lower accessibility of financial services is integral for an effective endeavor to lower barriers to financial services with far-reaching policy and economic implications. The economic literature provides evidence of the beneficial effects of increased access to financial services as well as the adverse effects of diminished access to credit and banking services. These effects are particularly pronounced for low-income individuals, minorities, and small businesses. The research also shows that, despite the technological advances, credit and depository service markets are local. Hence considering the geographic aspects of these services is essential. My research explores the role of geography in bank exit and entry, which directly affects the spatial accessibility of financial services within a community. Similarly, a rapid increase in student-loan debt has drawn much attention form public, scholars, and politicians. The sharp increase of defaults on student loans accompanied by growing student loan debt during the Great Recession led to proposals of forgiving student loans and making some public higher education tuition-free. To understand the political economy of such proposals, I explore the circumstances that motivate the implementation of the student-loan debt forgiveness policy in a two-period model of schooling and unemployment insurance with search costs.



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