Credit access for female firms: evidence from a survey on European SMEs
This paper uses ECB survey data to assess whether gender matters in the small firmsï¿½ financial structure and access to credit. Firms owned or managed by women (female firms) use smaller amounts and less heterogeneous sources of external finance than their male counterparts. According to statistical evidence, female firms have difficulty in accessing bank finance: on the demand side, they apply for bank loans less frequently, as they more often anticipate a rejection; on the supply side, they experience a higher rejection rate. Econometric analysis shows that these different patterns are largely explained by the characteristics (such as business size, age and sector of activity) that make female firms structurally different from those led by men, without leaving room for a significant gender effect. An additional contribution of this paper is to compare the major euro-area countries within a homogeneous framework: weak evidence of gender discrimination appears in the supply of bank loans in Germany, Italy and Spain, while some demand obstacles arise in France.
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