Gender discrimination in small business lending. Evidence from a lab-in-the-field experiment in Turkey

By J. Michelle Brock and Ralph De Haas


A new EBRD Working Paper (number 232)

We test for the presence of gender discrimination in small business lending through a lab-in-the-field experiment with 334 Turkish loan officers. Each officer reviews multiple loan applications in which we randomize the applicant’s gender. While unconditional approval rates are the same for male and female applicants, we detect a more subtle form of discrimination. Loan officers are 30 percent more likely to make loan approval conditional on the presence of a guarantor when we present an application as coming from a female instead of a male entrepreneur. This gender discrimination is concentrated among young, inexperienced, and gender-biased loan officers. Discrimination is also most pronounced for loans that perform well in real life, making it costly to the bank. Experimental variation in the available applicant information does not impact lending decisions, suggesting that the nature of discrimination is implicit rather than statistical.

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