• The editor in charge of this paper was Stefano DellaVigna.

  • Acknowledgments: We are grateful to the editor and four anonymous referees for very constructive feedbacks on earlier versions of this paper. We also thank M. Bianco, A. Brandolini, D. Franco, X. Freixas, G. Gobbi, A. Ichino, A. Lamorgese, E. Santarelli, A. Shleifer, E. Washington, and seminars participants at Bocconi University, University of Pavia, of Siena and of Urbino for their useful comments. A previous version of the paper was presented at the Corporate Finance workshop at the NBER Summer Institute (July 2009) and the XXIV Meeting of the EEA (August 2009); we are grateful to the audience for insightful discussion, in particular to Shawn Cole. We also thank G. de Blasio and L. Zingales for providing data on social capital. The opinions expressed herein are our own and do not necessarily represent those of the Bank of Italy.

  • E-mail: (Alesina); (Lotti); (Mistrulli)


By using a unique and large data set on loan contracts between banks and microfirms, we find robust evidence that women in Italy pay more for credit than men, although we do not find any evidence that women borrowers are riskier than men. The male/female differential remains even after controlling for a large number of characteristics of the type of business, the borrower, and the structure of the credit market. The result is not driven by lack of credit history, nor by women using a different type of bank than men, since the same bank charges different rates to male and female borrowers.