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The Silent Treatment: LGBT Discrimination in the Sharing Economy

Author

Listed:
  • Rishi Ahuja

    () (Department of Economics, Trinity College Dublin)

  • Ronan C. Lyons

    () (Department of Economics, Trinity College Dublin)

Abstract

Online marketplaces were built with the implicit promise of reducing discrimination. Over time, though, online marketplaces have increasingly been designed to reduce anonymity as an exercise in trust building. While the reduction of anonymity can build trust, such design choices can also facilitate discrimination. This study is the first to examine whether there is discrimination against those in same-sex relationships (SSRs) in the sharing economy. Specifically, we examine whether SSRs face discrimination on the Airbnb platform in Dublin, Ireland, through a field experiment. We find that guests in implied male SSRs are approximately 20-30 percent less likely to be accepted than identical guests in implied opposite-sex relationships (OSRs) and in female SSRs. This difference is driven by non-responses from hosts, not outright rejection, and persists regardless of a variety of host and location characteristics, although male hosts and those with many listings are less likely to discriminate. Discrimination against male SSRs was observed least in the most desirable locations. The findings are not consistent with taste-based discrimination but, with little evidence for statistical discrimination, they raise something of a puzzle about the underlying source of discrimination against those in SSRs.

Suggested Citation

  • Rishi Ahuja & Ronan C. Lyons, 2017. "The Silent Treatment: LGBT Discrimination in the Sharing Economy," Trinity Economics Papers tep1917, Trinity College Dublin, Department of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:tcd:tcduee:tep1917
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    File URL: https://www.tcd.ie/Economics/TEP/2017/TEP1917.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Carlsson, Magnus & Rooth, Dan-Olof, 2007. "Evidence of ethnic discrimination in the Swedish labor market using experimental data," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 14(4), pages 716-729, August.
    2. David J. Deming & Noam Yuchtman & Amira Abulafi & Claudia Goldin & Lawrence F. Katz, 2016. "The Value of Postsecondary Credentials in the Labor Market: An Experimental Study," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 106(3), pages 778-806, March.
    3. 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.
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    discrimination; sharing economy; field experiment; Airbnb;

    JEL classification:

    • J16 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Economics of Gender; Non-labor Discrimination
    • R3 - Urban, Rural, Regional, Real Estate, and Transportation Economics - - Real Estate Markets, Spatial Production Analysis, and Firm Location

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