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Faculty of Economics

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Morris, J.

The Impact of Qualitative Reviews on Racial Statistical Discrimination: Evidence from Airbnb


Abstract: This paper analyses the effect of qualitative reviews on racial statistical discrimination. Using a fine-tuned Bidirectional Encoder Representations from Transformers (BERT) language model that was developed specifically for this task, I include the effects of recent qualitative reviews on the log listing price difference between Black and White hosts on Airbnb. For properties without guest reviews, I find a 4% log listing price difference between Black and White hosts for comparable properties. Once review information becomes available, this pricing difference reduces to 1%, providing evidence against the persistence of racial listing price differences on Airbnb, and furthermore, suggesting that race is used as the primary signal of property quality only in the absence of better information. Beyond its applications within the context of Airbnb, this paper aims to explain how the early provision of detailed qualitative information can reduce the effects of statistical discrimination against minorities.

Keywords: Airbnb, Discrimination, Race, Online marketplace

JEL Codes: D83 J15 L84

Author links: James Morris  


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