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

  • Isabelle Agier
  • Ariane Szafarz

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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Paper provided by ULB -- Universite Libre de Bruxelles in its series ULB Institutional Repository with number 2013/149090.

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Date of creation: 2013
Date of revision:
Publication status: Published in: World development (2013) v.42,p.165-181
Handle: RePEc:ulb:ulbeco:2013/149090
Note: SCOPUS: ar.j
Contact details of provider: Postal: CP135, 50, avenue F.D. Roosevelt, 1050 Bruxelles
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  1. Armendáriz, Beatriz & Szafarz, Ariane, 2011. "On mission drift in microfinance institutions," MPRA Paper 31041, University Library of Munich, Germany, revised 2010.
  2. 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.
  3. Andrea Bellucci & Alexander V. Borisov & Alberto Zazzaro, 2009. "Does Gender Matter in Bank-Firm Relationships? Evidence from Small Business Lending," Mo.Fi.R. Working Papers 31, Money and Finance Research group (Mo.Fi.R.) - Univ. Politecnica Marche - Dept. Economic and Social Sciences.
  4. Christian Weller, 2009. "Credit Access, the Costs of Credit and Credit Market Discrimination," The Review of Black Political Economy, Springer, vol. 36(1), pages 7-28, March.
  5. Lex Borghans & Bart H. H. Golsteyn & James J. Heckman & Huub Meijers, 2009. "Gender Differences in Risk Aversion and Ambiguity Aversion," Journal of the European Economic Association, MIT Press, vol. 7(2-3), pages 649-658, 04-05.
  6. Marc Labie & Pierre-Guillaume Méon & Roy Mersland & Ariane Szafarz, 2010. "Discrimination by Microcredit Officers: Theory and Evidence on Disability in Uganda," Working Papers CEB 10-007.RS, ULB -- Universite Libre de Bruxelles.
  7. Ariane Szafarz, 2008. "An Alternative to Statistical Discrimination," ULB Institutional Repository 2013/14329, ULB -- Universite Libre de Bruxelles.
  8. 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.
  9. Alberto F. Alesina & Francesca Lotti & Paolo Emilio Mistrulli, 2008. "Do Women Pay More for Credit? Evidence from Italy," NBER Working Papers 14202, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  10. 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.
  11. 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.
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