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Microfinance and Gender: Is There a Glass Ceiling on Loan Size?

  • Agier, Isabelle
  • Szafarz, Ariane

Most of the customers of microfinance institutions are female. But do men and women benefit from the same credit conditions? We investigate this issue by presenting an original model and testing its predictions on an exceptional database comprising 34,000 loan applications from a Brazilian microfinance institution. The model determines the optimal loan size fixed by a gender-biased lender, depending on the borrower’s creditworthiness and the intensity of the lender’s bias. The empirical analysis detects no gender bias in loan denial, but uncovers disparate treatment with regard to credit conditions. In particular, we find a “glass ceiling” effect. The gender gap in loan size increases disproportionately with respect to the scale of the borrower’s project. The results are insensitive to the loan officer’s gender.

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Article provided by Elsevier in its journal World Development.

Volume (Year): 42 (2013)
Issue (Month): C ()
Pages: 165-181

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Handle: RePEc:eee:wdevel:v:42:y:2013:i:c:p:165-181
Contact details of provider: Web page: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/worlddev

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  1. Beatriz Armendariz & Ariane Szafarz, 2009. "On Mission Drift In Microfinance Institutions," Working Papers CEB 09-015.RS, ULB -- Universite Libre de Bruxelles.
  2. Pierre-Guillaume Méon & Roy Mersland & Ariane Szafarz & Marc Labie, 2011. "Discrimination by Microcredit Officers:Theory and Evidence on Disability in Uganda," DULBEA Working Papers 11-06, ULB -- Universite Libre de Bruxelles.
  3. Lex Borghans & Bart H.H. Golsteyn & James J. Heckman & Huub Meijers, 2009. "Gender Differences in Risk Aversion and Ambiguity Aversion," NBER Working Papers 14713, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Marcella Corsi & Fabrizio Botti & Tommaso Rondinella & Giulia Zacchia, 2006. "Women and Microfinance in Mediterranean Countries," Development, Palgrave Macmillan, vol. 49(2), pages 67-74, June.
  5. Alberto F. Alesina & Francesca Lotti & Paolo Emilio Mistrulli, 2013. "Do Women Pay More For Credit? Evidence From Italy," Journal of the European Economic Association, European Economic Association, vol. 11, pages 45-66, 01.
  6. Bellucci, Andrea & Borisov, Alexander & Zazzaro, Alberto, 2010. "Does gender matter in bank-firm relationships? Evidence from small business lending," Journal of Banking & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 34(12), pages 2968-2984, December.
  7. Christian E. Weller, 2008. "Credit Access, the Costs of Credit and Credit Market Discrimination," Working Papers wp171, Political Economy Research Institute, University of Massachusetts at Amherst.
  8. Blanchard, Lloyd & Zhao, Bo & Yinger, John, 2008. "Do lenders discriminate against minority and woman entrepreneurs?," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 63(2), pages 467-497, March.
  9. Steven B. Caudill & Daniel M. Gropper & Valentina Hartarska, 2009. "Which Microfinance Institutions Are Becoming More Cost Effective with Time? Evidence from a Mixture Model," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 41(4), pages 651-672, 06.
  10. Helena Marrez & Mathias Schmit, 2009. "Credit risk analysis in microcredit: How does gender matter?," Working Papers CEB 09-053.RS, ULB -- Universite Libre de Bruxelles.
  11. Ariane Szafarz, 2008. "An Alternative to Statistical Discrimination," ULB Institutional Repository 2013/14329, ULB -- Universite Libre de Bruxelles.
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