Devin Fergus

Associate Professor, Department of African American and African Studies

Devin Fergus is Associate Professor of African American and African Studies and a senior fellow at Demos, a policy-centered research institute headquartered in New York. Dr. Fergus is finishing his second book, Land of the Fee, which examines the rise of hidden 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. His research focuses on the historical mechanisms driving contemporary inequality. Dr. Fergus is also guest editor of “Banking without Borders: Culture and Credit in the New Financial World” for Kalfou, a journal published by the University of Minnesota 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 politics, policy, and inequality, including for The New York Times, Washington Post, and The Guardian. He received his Ph.D. in American history from Columbia University.

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

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.

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

Justin King of New America Foundation Interviews Devin Fergus, July 13, 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.” AtlantaJournal Constitution, Mar. 11, 2011.

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


Recent Interviews and Presentations

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

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



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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