Article | American Economic Journal: Applied Economics | April 2017

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

by Benjamin G. Edelman, Michael Luca and Daniel Svirsky

Abstract

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

Keywords: discrimination; field experiment; race; bias; Airbnb; Prejudice and Bias; Race; Accommodations Industry;

Citation:

Edelman, Benjamin G., Michael Luca, and Daniel Svirsky. "Racial Discrimination in the Sharing Economy: Evidence from a Field Experiment." American Economic Journal: Applied Economics 9, no. 2 (April 2017): 1–22.