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Ethnic Discrimination in the German Housing Market

A Field Experiment on the Underlying Mechanisms

Ethnische Diskriminierung auf dem deutschen Wohnungsmarkt
Ein Feldexperiment zu den zugrundeliegenden Mechanismen
Andreas Horr, Christian Hunkler and Clemens Kroneberg

Abstract

Ethnic discrimination in the housing market has long been seen as a cause of residential segregation and social inequality. While research has investigated the existence and extent of discrimination with regard to written applications for housing, little is known about personal inquiries via telephone. This study reports on findings from a telephone audit study that has allowed us to estimate the impact of (ethnic) accents and to distinguish between taste-based and statistical discrimination. We find no significant discrimination against callers with Turkish names. However, callers with both a Turkish name and accent were invited to view apartments significantly less often. Information about steady employment compensated for this disadvantage to a large extent. We conclude that statistical discrimination plays a major role in explaining why persons of Turkish origin receive fewer invitations to view apartments.

Zusammenfassung

Ethnische Diskriminierung auf dem Wohnungsmarkt wird seit langem als Ursache für Wohnsegregation und soziale Ungleichheit angesehen. Bisher wurde das Bestehen und Ausmaß ethnischer Diskriminierung anhand schriftlicher Anfragen untersucht, über den üblicheren Weg mittels persönlicher oder telefonischer Anfragen ist wenig bekannt. Wir berichten Ergebnisse eines Telefonexperiments, das es erlaubt, den Einfluss von Akzenten zu schätzen und zwischen präferenzbasierter und statistischer Diskriminierung zu unterscheiden. Wir finden keine signifikante Diskriminierung gegenüber Anruferinnen und Anrufern mit türkischem Namen. Allerdings wurden Anruferinnen und Anrufer mit türkischem Namen und türkischem Akzent signifikant seltener eingeladen. Ein positives Signal zur Berufstätigkeit konnte diesen Nachteil zu einem großen Teil ausgleichen. Wir schließen daraus, dass statistische Diskriminierung entscheidend zur Erklärung beiträgt, warum Personen türkischer Herkunft weniger Einladungen zu Wohnungsbesichtigungen erhalten.

Acknowledgement

We are grateful to Hartmut Esser and Frank Kalter for their support and valuable comments, as well as to the anonymous reviewers who contributed to the improvement of this paper. We also want to thank Harald Beier, Robert Koch, Gregor Sand, Meike Thüsing, Sebastian Weingartner, and especially Kathrin Shirbini for their support in planning, organizing, and conducting the study.

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Supplemental Material

The online version of this article offers supplementary material (https://doi.org/10.1515/zfsoz-2018-1009).

Published Online: 2018-6-2
Published in Print: 2018-6-26

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