Sources of Discriminations and Collaborative Economy

Better understanding ethnic discrimination on Airbnb platform

The project is co-financed by LIEPP

Research team :

Morgane Laouénan (CNRS, Co-director of LIEPP's Discriminations and Social Inequalities Research Group)

Roland Rathelot (Professor of economy, Warwick University) 

Project description : 

Airbnb was founded in 2008 and is now a major actor in the accommodation industry. However, the company has faced increasing criticism about the existence of ethnic discrimination on its platform, both on the host and guest sides. This has led Airbnb to react and design an anti-discrimination policy, made public in September 2016. However, little is known about which policies would be more efficient to fight discrimination, because we don’t know which discriminatory processes are at work. This projects draws on recent findings detailed in Laouénan and Rathelot, and examines the existence of discrimination on Airbnb across 19 cities in North America and Europe with the largest number of listings. The project finds that hosts from ethnic minorities have prices which are on average 3.5% lower, after we account for very detailed characteristics and location. It also shows that the ‘ethnic price gap’ decreases starkly with an increased number of reviews. These findings, combined with additional evidence using a longitudinal sample, suggest that most of the ‘ethnic price gap’ is due to statistical discrimination which could be best solved by improving the amount of information about listings and the reviewing process.

Associated publications  :

For more information, please have a look on the project's poster :

"Ethnic Discrimination on an Online Marketplace of Vacation Rentals" (June 2016)


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