Household Led by Women: Understanding Access to Housing Credit in Latin America and the Caribbean

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Nov 2023
The share of Latin American and Caribbean households led by women is rapidly increasing, at the same time as these households are overrepresented among those living in housing deficit. In this study, we looked at whether there is a gender gap in access to housing loans, one of the main tools available to housing. In addition, we explored which are the characteristics of FHHs and to which extent they can have an impact on their access to adequate housing. This study shows how FHHs face greater housing deficits. Our findings indicate that gender gaps in other areas, most importantly in labor markets, are conditioning income and therefore access to financial services. And yet, once results are controlled for observable variables, the gender gap in obtaining a mortgage in LAC shrinks but persists. At all income levels, women had a lower proportion of housing credit ownership than men did at the same income level. That is, a woman would need higher levels of income and education than a man does to achieve the same access to financial services. Likewise, gender gaps are noticeable even when comparing men and women with housing loans. For example, our results indicate that women in the second wealthiest quintile would have the same access to credit as men in the second poorest quintile. Our study also supports the notion that FHHs tend to prioritize housing location over housing, which may explain why FHHs are overcrowded even if not poor.