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John Caskey

Joseph Wharton Professor of History and Political Economy

Division Chair, Social Sciences



  2. Phone: (610) 328-8128
  3. Kohlberg Hall 215
  4. Office Hours: Tuesdays & Thursdays 8:45am-9:45am
John Caskey

Background and Research Interests

John P. Caskey’s research interests fall in three main areas. First, he has long followed and written about the delivery of financial services to lower-income households in the U.S. As part of this work, he has studied the roles played by credit unions, pawnshops, payday lenders, and check-cashing outlets. Second, he has a longstanding interest in understanding the strategies and assessing the effectiveness of community development financial institutions. Third, he enjoys studying urban development patterns and development initiatives, especially as they concern Philadelphia. As indicated in his curriculum vita, Professor Caskey has written extensively on these and other topics.

In addition to teaching at Swarthmore since 1990, Professor Caskey taught at Washington University in St. Louis and been a visiting professor at Yale and the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. He has also worked as an economist at the International Monetary Fund and served as a visiting scholar at the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City, the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia, and the Universidade Nova de Lisboa. He has worked as a consultant for the Ford Foundation, the World Bank, Pew Charitable Trusts, and other organizations. He is a member of the board of directors of the Chester Community Improvement Project.

Professor Caskey holds a B.A. in philosophy from Harvard University and a Ph.D. in economics from Stanford University.


Professor Caskey regularly teaches Introductory Economics, Urban Economics, and Financial Economics.

Links to Unpublished Works

" Spending by Liberal Arts Colleges:  A 22-Year Retrospective," Unpublished working paper, September 2021.

"The Chester Upland School District: Structured for Fiscal Crises," Unpublished working paper, September, 2021.

"Why is Chester, Pennsylvania, So Poor?," Unpublished working paper, January 2020

"The Awkward Economics of Private Liberal Arts Colleges," Cornell University Higher Education Research Institute Working Paper #181, February 2018.

HOPE:  The Evolution of a Community Development Organization, Unpublished manuscript, October 2013.

Data Links

Data used in "Tuition Discounting in Liberal Arts Colleges," Change: The Magazine of Higher Learning, November/December 2018.
John Caskey with a statue of Maria Stanford

In this picture taken in the U.S. Capitol building, Professor Caskey poses with a statue of Maria Sanford, the first person to teach economics at Swarthmore. After leaving the College in 1880, she went on to prominence in Minnesota, which is why her statue is in the Capitol.