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Does the Structure of Banking Markets Affect Economic Growth? Evidence from U.S. State Banking Markets

This paper examines the impacts of banking market structure and regulation on economic growth using new data on banking market concentration and manufacturing industry-level growth rates for U.S. states during 1899-1929—a period when the manufacturing sector was expanding rapidly and restrictive branching laws segmented the U.S. banking system geographically. Unlike studies of developing and developed countries today, we find that banking market concentration generally had a positive impact on manufacturing sector growth in the early twentieth century United States, with a somewhat stronger impact on industries with smaller establishments, lower rates of incorporation, and less reliance on bond markets (and, hence, relatively more reliance on banks). Because regulations affecting bank entry varied considerably across states and the industrial organization of the U.S. banking system differs markedly from those of other countries, we consider the impact of other aspects of banking market structure and policy on growth. Even after controlling for differences in the prevalence of branch banking, deposit insurance, and other aspects of policy and market structure, we find that market concentration boosted industrial growth.

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