A study conducted by a team from Harvard Business School concerning discrimination in economy, showed that Airbnb hosts are likely to be racist.
- Study shows people with African-American sounding names are 16% less likely to find accommodation
- Airbnb allows hosts to choose their clients
- Racial discrimination is not linked to gender
When it comes to renting a room at the hotel, you’re usually the one to make the decision. You choose the hotel, not the hotel chooses you. However, when it comes to Airbnb the hotel or better said the host can choose whether to receive a particular guest or not. But how exactly does a host make their choice and what makes them decline a hosting request? It looks like race might be a criterion.
According to the research made by Luca, Svirsky and Edelman, Airbnb hosts have the tendency to decline requests from people who have African-American-sounding names. On the other hand, they seem to have no problem with “white-American” names.
How did the researchers figure it out? They created twenty Airbnb accounts that were identical except for their names and also gender. Through these accounts they sent hosting requests to about 6,400 hosts that were randomly picked from five cities in the US. The cities were L.A., Dallas, Washington, Baltimore and St. Louis.
The accounts were divided into 10 African-American sounding names and 10 ‘white sounding names’ which were then each sub-divided into five males and five females. The results showed that the accounts with “African-American sounding” names had 16% less chances of getting a room than the accounts with “white-names”, regardless of gender.
The results didn’t seem to be affected by the race, age, gender or experience of the host, so the phenomenon is quite general and it’s not limited to a particular situation or a particular type of host.
If you’re at a loss thinking of African-American sounding names, here are some examples: Latoya, Makayla, Keysha for women or Deandre, Lamar or Tyrese for men. However, even if they are usually names given to African-American people, it doesn’t mean white Americans cannot be named Lamar or Keysha. Therefore, the bias could affect both races, regardless of their color.
All in all, this high level of racial discrimination is quite alarming and obviously very disturbing for people who are trying to rent a room and receive negative answers only because their name doesn’t sound white enough.
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