Devin Fergus

Associate professor

Devin Fergus

College of Arts and Sciences
Phone: 614-247-2420
Topics: political economy, racial inequality, consumer finance policy

Devin Fergus is Associate Professor of African American and African Studies and senior fellow at Demos, a policy-centered research institute based in New York. His research focuses on the historical mechanisms driving contemporary inequality. Professor Fergus is finishing his second book, Land of the Fee, which examines the rise of consumer finance fees and its impact on the wealth gap in America since the 1970s. This book is under contract with the trade division of Oxford University Press. A much anticipated work in advance of its publication, Land of the Fee has been called one of the 5 best books for understanding capitalism today. Professor Fergus is also guest editor of “Banking without Borders: Culture and Credit in the New Financial World” for Kalfou, a journal published by Temple University Press. This special issue examines the impact four decades of financial deregulation have had on race, gender, immigration, culture, and class. He has written widely on policy, political economy, and inequality, including for The New York Times, Washington Post, and The Guardian. He received his Ph.D. in American history from Columbia University.

He is a regular contributor to Policy Shop, a blog from the public policy organization Demos. Read his latest posts at

Along with Louis Hyman, Bethany Moreton, and Julia Ott, Professor Fergus is editor of the Columbia Studies in the History of U.S. Capitalism book series from Columbia University Press. If you are interested in submitting a manuscript for consideration, please email him or Bridget Flannery-McCoy at

Recent Publications

Guest Co-editor. "Banking Without Borders: Culture and Credit in the New Financial World." [Special issue] Kalfou 1 (2014).

"Financial Fracking in the Land of the Fee, 1980-2008," The Assets Perspective. Edited by Reid Cramer and Trina R. Williams Shanks. Palgrave MacMillan, 2014.

The Ghetto Tax: Auto Insurance, Postal Code Profiling, and the Hidden History of Wealth Transfer in America.” In Beyond Discrimination: Racial Inequality in a Post-Racist Era. Edited by Fredrick C. Harris and Robert C. Lieberman. NY: Russell Sage Foundation, 2013.

What are the Predictors of Economic Instability? Assets, Economic Instability, and Children’s Human Capital: Building a Better Welfare System for the Poor.” William Elliott, Devin Fergus, and Terri Friedline. Assets & Education Initiative, Sept. 24, 2012.

Black Power, Soft Power.Journal of Policy History 22 (2010): 148-192.

Liberalism, Black Power, and the Making of American Politics, 1965-1980 (Georgia, 2009).
Choice Outstanding Academic Book (2010)

Recent Interviews and Presentations

"The Time Republicans Helped Build an All-Black City called 'Soul City'" by Brentin Mock. From The Atlantic: CityLab. November 6, 2015.

"In Some States, Low-Income Drivers Get Help with Auto Insurance." by Alice Holbrook. From Nerdwallet. April 21, 2015.

On financial deregulation.” OSU Experts. Sept. 8, 2014.

Senior Fellow Devin Fergus talks Jim Crow, Donald Sterling, and the racial wealth gap.” Interview at May 22, 2014.

Wealth Inequality in the ‘Land of the Fee’: A Conversation with Devin Fergus,” by Carolina Reid, Berkeley Planning Journal, 26(1), 2013.

Land of the Fee: The Rise of Consumer Finance Fees and the Decline of Upward Mobility,” John Glenn School of Public Affairs, Jan. 2013.

Dodd-Frank: How Will Financial Services be Transformed from Main Street to Wall Street?” New America Foundation. July 13, 2010.

Justin King of New America Foundation Interviews Devin Fergus, July 13, 2010.

Economic Inequality and the Return of Jim Crow. National History Center/Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, Washington, DC April 5, 2010.

Why Don’t American Cities Burn? Michael Katz and Devin Fergus Discuss Racial Inequality and Urban Poverty, New America Foundation, Washington DC February 17, 2010.

In the Press

"Ending this Fee for All." The New York Times. Oct. 15, 2014.

My students pay too much for college. Blame Reagan,” Washington Post. Sept. 2, 2014.

Are auto insurance companies red-lining poor, urban drivers?The Guardian. July 21, 2014.

Devin Fergus Challenges Critics of Ferguson Protests: Why Riot?” Aug. 25, 2014.

HOPE Reduction Creates New Losers.” Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Mar. 11, 2011.

Regulators Who Look Like America.” The American Prospect [online], Aug. 19, 2010.


Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars

Cambridge University

James Weldon Johnson Institute for Advanced Interdisciplinary Studies, Emory University

Gilder Lehrman Institute

National Endowment for the Humanities

Lumina Foundation

Rockefeller Foundation

Areas of Expertise

  • Political Economy
  • Racial Inequality
  • Consumer Finance Policy

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