Discrimination in Microfinance: The Role of Credit Officers
This paper studies how high-powered incentives may affect credit officers’ discriminatory practices in microfinance institutions. Using an agency model applied to a non-profit MFI, we argue that incentive contracts may help align the officer’s behavior with the MFI’s mission. However, since incentives are costly, and the MFI’s budget is limited, even a benevolent institution faces a trade-off between fighting discrimination and raising outreach. Welfare maximization may not imply full eradication of discriminatory practices. A non discriminating welfare-maximizing MFI may thus prefer paying smaller incentives, and letting its credit officer discriminate to some extent.
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