Subtle Discrimination in the Rental Housing Market

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Subtle Discrimination in the Rental Housing Market: Evidence from E-mail Correspondence Andrew Hanson Zackary Hawley &Aryn Taylor What is the question? This paper contributes to identify subtle forms of racial discrimination in rental housing market. Why is it important? Why should we care? Subtle discrimination is particularly difficult to measure in housing market transactions; nonetheless, landlords may use subtle discrimination to discourage minority clients from pursuing housing options. Traditional response/non-response measures in e-mail audit studies ignore subtle discrimination, and likely underestimate discrimination by mistaking treatment that appears equal for treatment that is different. What’s in the literature? What do we already know? The previous studies answer the question does discrimination occur in the housing market with an emphatic “yes.” Ondrich, Stricker, and Yinger(1998) propose three main types of behaviors agents can use to discriminate against minority clientele: information given about which units are available, facilitating the sale of a unit, and the geographic location of housing units shown or recommended. Yinger(1998) highlights significant discriminatory behavior in both sales and rental housing markets. Zhao(2005) finds blacks and Hispanics are shown 30% and 10% fewer homes, respectively. Carpusor and Loges(2006) find Arab and African American sounding names are significantly less likely to receive a response from potential landlords. What will the paper add? The authors extend the measure of unequal treatment by examining a precise record detailing the communication between auditors and landlords to show how landlords practice subtle discrimination in the rental housing market. How does the paper answer the question (mechanics/methodology)? -In order to test for subtle discrimination, the authors
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