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Information and discrimination in the rental housing market: evidence from a field experiment


  • M. Angeles Carnero Fernández

    () (Universidad de Alicante)

  • Lídia Farré Olalla

    (Universidad de Alicante)

  • Mariano Bosch

    (Universidad de Alicante)


This paper investigates the effect of disclosing information on the discriminatory behaviour against immigrants in the Spanish rental market. We conduct a field experiment where emails are sent showing interest on vacant rental apartments. Fictitious applicants whose names represent different ethnic groups send emails with different amount of information about their ability to pay the rent. Our results show that applicants with a Moroccan sounding name are 15 percentage points less likely to be contacted by the property owner than those with a Spanish name. We also find that revealing positive information about the socioeconomic status of the Moroccan candidate increases the probability of being contacted by 8 percentage points. However, the information revealed does not completely eliminate discriminatory behavior, suggesting the presence of negative attitudes towards immigrants.

Suggested Citation

  • M. Angeles Carnero Fernández & Lídia Farré Olalla & Mariano Bosch, 2009. "Information and discrimination in the rental housing market: evidence from a field experiment," Working Papers. Serie AD 2009-21, Instituto Valenciano de Investigaciones Económicas, S.A. (Ivie).
  • Handle: RePEc:ivi:wpasad:2009-21

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. John Yinger, 1998. "Evidence on Discrimination in Consumer Markets," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 12(2), pages 23-40, Spring.
    2. P. A. Riach & J. Rich, 2002. "Field Experiments of Discrimination in the Market Place," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 112(483), pages 480-518, November.
    3. David M. Cutler & Edward L. Glaeser & Jacob L. Vigdor, 1999. "The Rise and Decline of the American Ghetto," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 107(3), pages 455-506, June.
    4. Ahmed, Ali M. & Hammarstedt, Mats, 2008. "Discrimination in the rental housing market: A field experiment on the Internet," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 64(2), pages 362-372, September.
    5. Marianne Bertrand & Sendhil Mullainathan, 2004. "Are Emily and Greg More Employable Than Lakisha and Jamal? A Field Experiment on Labor Market Discrimination," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 94(4), pages 991-1013, September.
    6. James J. Heckman, 1998. "Detecting Discrimination," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 12(2), pages 101-116, Spring.
    7. Yinger, John, 1986. "Measuring Racial Discrimination with Fair Housing Audits: Caught in the Act," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 76(5), pages 881-893, December.
    8. Page Marianne, 1995. "Racial and Ethnic Discrimination in Urban Housing Markets: Evidence from a Recent Audit Study," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 38(2), pages 183-206, September.
    9. Ondrich, Jan & Stricker, Alex & Yinger, John, 1999. "Do Landlords Discriminate? The Incidence and Causes of Racial Discrimination in Rental Housing Markets," Journal of Housing Economics, Elsevier, vol. 8(3), pages 185-204, September.
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    Discrimination; migration; rental market; field experiment;

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