Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


School of Social Work

Document Type



As an increasing number of American families cope with chronic financial stability, they have withdrawn from traditional financial systems and instead have chosen to participate in the fringe economy where alternative financial services (AFS) and products are costly. Although individuals’ lives have become highly financialized, the issue of financial inclusion is not well understood. Research to date primarily has focused on the banked and unbanked group, yet, evidence indicates the presence of a sizeable group of people who are underbanked. Using a posttest-only, nonequivalent control group quasi-experimental design, this dissertation study investigated banking statuses (unbanked, underbanked, and banked), and AFS use (payday loan, auto title loan, pawnshop services, and rent-to-own product) among American households to understand how banking practices influence financial well-being (e.g., financial security). Drawing data from a recently released national dataset, 2015 National Financial Capability Study, the current study examined relevant demographic, socioeconomic, and financial determinants (e.g., family circumstances, knowledge) of banking status. Employing a propensity score matching approach, this study investigated the impact of banking status on current and future financial security and well-being. Results showed that the underbanked group is sizeable and has a distinctive profile from that of both the unbanked and banked groups. Results also suggest that each of the four AFS products were used by individuals that had distinct characateristics, and the heterogeneity of AFS users calls for further investigation. Results from propensity score matching analysis showed that payday loan use had a modest, negative impact on present financial security, and a small, positive impact on future financial security. Implications for social work practice, education, and research are discussed.



Committee Chair

Lemieux, Catherine



Included in

Social Work Commons