Project Description


This chapter investigates whether gender-based discrimination exists in access to external finance by firms – due to culturally rooted prejudices and values – and whether this phenomenon has changed since the COVID-19 outbreak. To this purpose, we use firm-level data on European countries from the Enterprise Survey provided by the World Bank, together with the COVID follow-up, allowing us to consider gender in the ownership and the management of the firms. Empirical results consistently show that firms led by women are more likely to be credit constrained compared to their male led counterparts. Particularly, since the COVID-19 outbreak, the likelihood of being credit constrained for female led firms increases compared to the pre-COVID-19 period. The research makes a significant contribution to the existing literature: to the best of our knowledge, it is the first study to investigate the impact of gender-related variables (linked to ownership and management) on the likelihood of experiencing credit constraints by splitting the analysis period into before and since the COVID-19 outbreak. From a policy perspective, our findings underscore the need for initiatives to promote female entrepreneurship, including lower discrimination in the credit markets. This would shift the perception and expectations concerning the willingness of banks to grant women-led businesses credit, thereby reducing discouragement in the application process.