Cultural Proximity and Loan Outcomes

Publication Date
Financial Markets Group Discussion Papers DP 759
Publication Authors

We present evidence that cultural proximity (shared codes, beliefs, ethnicity) between lenders and borrowers increases the quantity of credit and reduces default. We identify in-group lending using dyadic data on religion and caste for officers and borrowers from an Indian bank, and a rotation policy that induces exogenous matching between them. Having an in-group officer increases credit access and loan size dispersion, reduces collateral requirements, and induces better repayment even after the in-group officer leaves. We consider a range of explanations and suggest that the findings are most easily explained by cultural proximity serving to mitigate information frictions in lending.