Turning citizens into investors: Promoting savings with liberty bonds during world war i

Eric Hilt, Wendy M. Rahn

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations

Abstract

Increasing savings rates among households of modest incomes would strengthen their balance sheets and reduce wealth inequality. This paper analyzes one of the largest and most successful efforts to increase the savings of ordinary households in American history. The Liberty Bond drives of World War I persuaded tens of millions of Americans to buy government bonds, which were sold in denominations as low as $50, and could be purchased in installment plans. Using newly collected data on the sales of Liberty Bonds at the county level, we analyze the factors that influenced the degree to which the bond drives were successful. The results highlight the importance of the participation of civil society organizations and local banks in marketing the bonds. We discuss the implications of these findings for the design of modern programs to increase savings.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)86-108
Number of pages23
JournalRSF
Volume2
Issue number6
DOIs
StatePublished - Oct 2016

Keywords

  • Civil society
  • Financial institutions
  • Liberty bonds
  • Saving
  • Savings bonds
  • Wealth inequality

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