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Understanding Discrimination against Same-Sex Couples in the United States: Evidence from an Email Correspondence Audit

David Schwegman ()
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David Schwegman: Center for Policy Research, Maxwell School, Syracuse University, 426 Eggers Hall, Syracuse, NY 13244,

No 210, Center for Policy Research Working Papers from Center for Policy Research, Maxwell School, Syracuse University

Abstract: As of 2017, no federal law protected Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer (LGBTQ) individuals from housing discrimination. However, 22 U.S. states and over 200 municipalities have passed laws prohibiting housing discrimination based on sexual orientation. In this paper, I present the results of a randomized pair-email correspondence audit of 6,490 property owners in 94 U.S. cities. I provide a nationally-representative estimate of the level of discrimination same-sex couples experience when inquiring about rental housing. I find that same-sex male couples, especially Black same-sex male couples, are less likely to receive a response to inquiries about rental units. Same-sex female couples receive preferential treatment compared to heterosexual couples. I then examine how state and local anti-discrimination laws covary with rates of housing discrimination against same-sex couples. Compare to localities without any housing protections, I find that response rates covary positively with statelevel protections but negatively with local-level protections. I conclude by testing several hypotheses about the causes of this discrimination. This preliminary evidence suggests that property owners are willfully discriminating against same-sex male couples.

Keywords: LGBTQ Discrimination; Same-Sex Households; Housing Audits; State and Local Laws; Rental Market Discrimination (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: J15 J18 R21 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Pages: 42 pages
Date: 2017-10
New Economics Papers: this item is included in nep-pay and nep-ure
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