African-American hosts rent homes for 12% less: study

New York /
Jan.January 22, 2014 02:00 PM

The layout and user design of Airbnb’s website makes it easier for would-be renters to discriminate against African-Americans, according to a new Harvard Business School study.

The study, titled “Digital Discrimination: The Case of Airbnb.com,” African-American hosts receive a bigger price penalty for receiving a weak location score compared to hosts of other races. Non-African-American hosts can charge an average 12 percent more than African-American hosts, if such features as quality, location and other rental traits are unchanged, the Jan. 10 report said.

The authors of the report, professors Michael Luca and Benjamin Edelman, make a case that the recently enlarged profile photos make skin color of the hosts unavoidable to the prospective Airbnb renter, Gawker reported. The data involved landlords in the city in 2012.

In response, the controversial peer-to-peer home rental startup said it is “committed to making Airbnb the most open, trusted, diverse, transparent community in the world.” [Gawker]Mark Maurer


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