Is There a Credit Union Difference? Comparing Canadian Credit Union and Bank Branch Locations


  • John Maiorano University of Toronto
  • Laurie Mook Arizona State University
  • Jack Quarter University of Toronto



Credit Unions, Canada, niche, location, branch


This study of credit union and bank branch locations and neighbourhoods in Canada seeks to discover if there is a distinct credit union niche. The study builds on an earlier paper of credit unions and banks in the US which found that credit unions in Wisconsin, Arizona and New Hampshire were more likely to be located in lower-income areas than bank branches (Mook, Maiorano & Quarter, 2015). In Canada, we find that credit union branches are over-represented in rural areas, and under-represented in large population centres relative to bank branches. Additionally, credit unions are overrepresented in middle income areas and underrepresented in high income areas compared to bank branches both at the national level and in all provinces where differences are statistically significant. Another significant finding is that while both credit unions and banks cater to marginalized communities, the type of marginalized communities they cater to distinguishes them. Making use of the Canadian Marginalization Index, we find credit union branches in Canada to be overrepresented in communities marginalized along the dimensions of Material Deprivation and Dependency, while bank branches are overrepresented in communities marginalized along the dimension of Residential Instability and Ethnic Concentration.


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Author Biographies

John Maiorano, University of Toronto

John Maiorano is a Ph.D. Candidate at the University of Toronto in Adult Education and Community Development at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education, Collaborative in Environmental Studies with the School of the Environment.

Laurie Mook, Arizona State University

Dr. Laurie Mook is Associate Professor in the Nonprofit Leadership and Management program in the School of Community Resources and Development, and research associate at the Lodestar Center for Nonprofit Innovation and Philanthropy, at Arizona State University.

Jack Quarter, University of Toronto

Dr. Jack Quarter is a professor in the Department of Leadership, Higher and Adult Education at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education.


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