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Racial Discrimination in the Sharing Economy: Evidence from a Field Experiment

Author

Listed:
  • Benjamin Edelman
  • Michael Luca
  • Dan Svirsky

Abstract

In an experiment on Airbnb, we find that applications from guests with distinctively African American names are 16 percent 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.

Suggested Citation

  • Benjamin Edelman & Michael Luca & Dan Svirsky, 2017. "Racial Discrimination in the Sharing Economy: Evidence from a Field Experiment," American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, American Economic Association, vol. 9(2), pages 1-22, April.
  • Handle: RePEc:aea:aejapp:v:9:y:2017:i:2:p:1-22
    Note: DOI: 10.1257/app.20160213
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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • C93 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Field Experiments
    • J15 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Economics of Minorities, Races, Indigenous Peoples, and Immigrants; Non-labor Discrimination
    • L83 - Industrial Organization - - Industry Studies: Services - - - Sports; Gambling; Restaurants; Recreation; Tourism

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