Ethnic discrimination in the Italian rental housing market
With a field experiment carried out on the Internet, this paper studies the presence of discrimination in the Italian rental housing market against persons whose names are distinctive of different ethnic groups and gender. Further, we investigate whether providing information on the job or personal characteristics of the applicant may reduce the extent of discrimination. We also study if sending ill-formed emails negatively affects immigrants' chances of success in receiving a positive response. We created twelve fictitious individuals: four with Italian-sounding names, four with typical Arab/Muslim names and four with East European-sounding names. We made these individuals send emails to apply for vacant rental apartments in 41 Italian cities. The results provide a multifaceted picture. The degree of discrimination varies across ethnic groups, genders and the level of information, but seems to be present only in part of the country, and is also closely correlated with the size of the flat. Perfect mastery of the receiving-country's language does not play an important role.
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