Discrimination by Microcredit Officers: Theory and Evidence on Disability in Uganda
Posted: 25 May 2016
Date Written: November 2015
This paper studies the relationship between a microfinance institution (MFI) and its loan officers when officers discriminate against a particular group of micro-entrepreneurs. Using survey data from Uganda, we provide evidence that loan officers are more biased than other employees against disabled micro-entrepreneurs. In line with the evidence, we build an agency model of a non-profit MFI and a biased loan officer in charge of granting loans. Since incentive schemes are costly and the MFI's budget is limited, the MFI faces a trade-off between combating discrimination and granting loans. We show that the optimal incentive premium is a non-decreasing function of the MFI's budget. Moreover, even a non-discriminatory welfare-maximizing MFI may let its loan officer discriminate, because eradicating discrimination would come at the cost of too many loans. Observing an MFI's loan allocation biased against a minority group therefore does not imply that the institution is biased against this group.
Keywords: Microcredit, Micro-entrepreneurs, Discrimination, Loan officers, Incentives, Disability
JEL Classification: G21, O16, J33, L3
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation