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ABSTRACT

We find that, in the early 20th century, counties in the United States where the agricultural elite had disproportionately large land holdings had significantly fewer banks per capita, even correcting for state-level effects. Moreover, credit appears to have been costlier, and access to it more limited, in these counties. The evidence suggests that elites may restrict financial development in order to limit access to finance, and they may be able to do so even in countries with well-developed political institutions.