Airbnb Study Suggests Some Hosts Are Prone To Discrimination

A Harvard Business School study claims some Airbnb hosts are prone to discrimination when presented with stereotypical African-American names.

Airbnb Study Suggests Some Hosts Are Prone To Discrimination
Getty Images / Chris Weeks

A study conducted by Harvard Business School suggests Airbnb renters are prone to discrimination. (Video via Airbnb)

And that's kind of a big deal, because with Airbnb hosts can elect to not rent to a person based on their name, sex or even race.

Researchers sent out Airbnb housing requests to about 6,400 hosts in five cities: Baltimore, Dallas, Los Angeles, St. Louis and Washington, D.C. All of those requests came from 20 different Airbnb accounts the team had created. (Video via Expedia

Requests from renters with African-American sounding names got a positive reply 42 percent of the time, while Caucasian sounding names received positive replies about 50 percent of the time. (Video via Expedia)

"On the whole," the researchers wrote, "we find that results are remarkably persistent. Both African-American and white hosts discriminate against African-American guests."

And those results also showed that both male and female hosts discriminated the same way. Regardless of sex, both male and female African-American guests were discriminated against. (Video via Airbnb)

In a statement Airbnb said, "We recognize that bias and discrimination are significant challenges, and we welcome the opportunity to work with anyone that can help us reduce potential discrimination in the Airbnb community." (Video via Airbnb)

And that includes working with the study's authors who Airbnb says it's already reached out to.