Racial Discrimination in the Sharing Economy: Evidence from a Field Experiment
Forthcoming, American Economic Journal: Applied Economics
36 Pages Posted: 12 Dec 2015 Last revised: 14 Jun 2017
Date Written: September 16, 2016
In an experiment on Airbnb, we find that applications from guests with distinctively African-American names are 16% less likely to be accepted relative to identical guests with distinctively White names. Discrimination occurs among landlords of all sizes, including small landlords sharing the property and larger landlords with multiple properties. It is most pronounced among hosts who have never had an African-American guest, suggesting only a subset of hosts discriminate. While rental markets have achieved significant reductions in discrimination in recent decades, our results suggest that Airbnb’s current design choices facilitate discrimination and raise the possibility of erasing some of these civil rights gains.
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