Subjectivity in Credit Allocation to Micro-Entrepreneurs: Evidence from Brazil
This paper estimates the impact of loan officers' subjectivity on microcredit granting by exploiting an exceptionally detailed database from a Brazilian microfinance institution. Loan officers collect field data, meet with applicants, and make recommendations to the credit committee that in turn has the final say on both loan approval and loan size. The loan officers' subjectivity is captured through the lens of disparate treatment based on gender. Indeed, our estimations show that an unfair gender gap is observed in loan size, and that this gap is almost exclusively attributable to the loan officers. We interpret this finding as evidence that, despite monitoring and wage incentivization, microcredit officers keep letting their subjective preferences interfere with loan granting. We conclude by suggesting alternative means to curb subjectivity in credit allocation to micro-entrepreneurs.
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