Discrimination Against Migrants and its Determinants: Evidence from a Multi-Purpose Field Experiment in the Housing Rental Market

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Mar 2023
The increasing number of Venezuelan migrants in Colombia, which now exceeds 2.9 million, has raised concerns about their potential discrimination and socioeconomic integration. We propose a novel approach to studying discrimination in the housing rental market by conducting a multi-purpose field experiment with 574 real estate agents to, not only measure the extent of discrimination but also to explore its determinants. After gathering comprehensive data about the REAs, they evaluated rental applications from Colombian, Venezuelan, and OECD families. Our findings suggest the presence of discrimination in the housing rental market, as REAs were less likely to choose a Venezuelan family over a Colombian or OECD family. We identified that this discrimination was a combination of taste and statistical discrimination, influenced by factors such as age, gender, cognitive skills, and local market knowledge. We found that the discriminatory social norm is well recognized among REAs. This study has significant implications for policymakers, advocates, and practitioners, not only in Colombia but globally, as it sheds light on the mechanisms of discrimination against migrant populations and emphasizes the need to promote their integration and well-being.