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Ethnic discrimination in the Italian rental housing market

  • Massimo Baldini


  • Marta Federici


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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Paper provided by Universita di Modena e Reggio Emilia, Dipartimento di Economia "Marco Biagi" in its series Center for the Analysis of Public Policies (CAPP) with number 0077.

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Date of creation: Jul 2010
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Handle: RePEc:mod:cappmo:0077
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  1. Ali M. Ahmed & Lina Andersson & Mats Hammarstedt, 2010. "Can Discrimination in the Housing Market Be Reduced by Increasing the Information about the Applicants?," Land Economics, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 86(1), pages 79-90.
  2. Dennis J. Aigner & Glen G. Cain, 1977. "Statistical theories of discrimination in labor markets," Industrial and Labor Relations Review, ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 30(2), pages 175-187, January.
  3. Bosch, Mariano & Carnero, M. Angeles & Farré, Lídia, 2010. "Information and discrimination in the rental housing market: Evidence from a field experiment," Regional Science and Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 40(1), pages 11-19, January.
  4. Judith Rich & Peter Riach, 2002. "Field experiments of discrimination in the market place," Natural Field Experiments 00328, The Field Experiments Website.
  5. 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.
  6. Phelps, Edmund S, 1972. "The Statistical Theory of Racism and Sexism," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 62(4), pages 659-61, September.
  7. James J. Heckman, 1998. "Detecting Discrimination," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 12(2), pages 101-116, Spring.
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