Arthur Acolin, Raphael Bostic, and Gary Painter have published a paper in the Journal of Economics which tests for discrimination in the rental housing market against names which are recognized as belonging to specific immigrant groups.
Acolin, Arthur; Bostic, Raphael; Painter, Gary. (9/2016) A field study of rental market discrimination across origins in France. Journal of Urban Economics,
Volume 95,pp 49-63.
Discrimination against particular groups in the housing market increases search costs and limits optimal matching, thus resulting in economic and social inefficiencies. This paper tests for the existence of discrimination in the French rental market against individuals with names which signal their connection to five immigrant groups (Northern Africa, Sub-Saharan Africa, Turkey, Poland, Portugal-Spain) by implementing an online field study using one of France’s largest online advertisements website. The results show that applicants with foreign sounding names coming from Northern Africa, Sub-Saharan Africa and Turkey are 16 to 22 percentage points less likely to receive a response than applicants with French names or names associated with Poland, Portugal or Spain. In addition, when applicants with foreign sounding names from any origin receive a response, it is significantly more likely to be negative or include a request for more information than responses to emails including French sounding names. Finally, we find some geographic differences in response rate differentials that are correlated with differences in the local income and share of immigrants. This provides evidence that landlords use names as a proxy for economic and other sociodemographic characteristics.