Just how equal-opportunity is AirBnB for its hosts?

airbnb lux
It seems like an unlikely venue for discrimination — when hosts are setting their own prices, as they do on AirBnB, how could entire races and ethnicities be charging (and therefore earning) less than others? In a strange manifestation of perhaps internalized social biases, a number of recent studies have shown that non-white AirBnB hosts actually maintain lower prices for their rental properties than their white counterparts. In fact, a 2012 Harvard Business School study showed that non-black hosts charged 12 percent more than black ones, and in a recent study regarding Asian-American hosts, this discrepancy is even more pronounced.

A new study entitled “The Model Minority? Not on Airbnb.com: A Hedonic Pricing Model to Quantify Racial Bias against Asian Americans,” published in the Harvard-affiliated Journal of Technology reveals that Asian-American hosts in Berkeley and Oakland (two cities where Asians comprise a significant portion of the population) actually earn around 20 percent less per week than Caucasian hosts. This generally translates to around $90.

The results were based upon an analysis of 101 AirBnB hosts in the Bay Area of California, and researchers noted that they chose these two locations in particular for their “socioeconomic and racial diversity.” As per a National Public Radio report on the research, available properties were “adjusted to account for rental type and occupancy,” and hosts were categorized “as Asian or white based on profile pictures. (Pictures that didn’t clearly indicate whether the host was Asian or not were eliminated).”

The results, researchers note, were stark — “Asian hosts earn, on average, $90 (or 20 percent) less per week than white landlords within this location for the standard one-bedroom rental for occupancy of one. The differential increases with the number of bedrooms and other upgrades to the house go up. Our regressions are resilient when subjected to statistical tests,” their results read.

The impetus for this study, explain co-authors David Wang, Stephen Xi, and John Gilheany in their paper, is to examine the effects of the meek and submissive stereotype that has come to extend to Asian-Americans, in spite of their simultaneous reputation as the so-called model minority. “While Asian Americans excel statistically on paper, do they face covert racial bias online?” researchers asked.

And according to these results, the answer seems pretty clear.

The explanation for Asian-Americans’ tendency to charge less may be ingrained in their pricing strategy, or it may be a recognition of market expectations. Ellen Wu, who serves as an associate professor of Asian American studies and history at Indiana University, told NPR that “Consumers come to expect paying Asian people less. We’ve come to expect cheaply priced products manufactured in places in China.” This may lead to an internalization of “subconscious bias,” both by Asian-Americans themselves and by others, who seem to observe their Asian peers perpetuating an existing stereotype, only furthering the vicious cycle.

It is, perhaps, the self-fulfilling nature of this phenomenon that makes it so difficult to address, but regardless, it’s a trend worth noting. Because as it turns out, the Internet is not an entirely ethnicity-blind place.


Whistle's new Go Explore tracker goes beyond GPS to monitor your pet's health

Whistle's latest line of pet trackers don't just track activity and GPS, but health trends as well. The Whistle Go and the Whistle Go Explore use research collected in a three-year span from more than 55,000 dogs.
Smart Home

Amazon stokes Prime Day fires with $30 off year of Audible plus $1 Echo Dot

Amazon reported Prime Day 2019 was bigger than ever, exceeding last year's Black Friday and Cyber Monday combined sales Amazon just threw more fuel on the retail fires with a hot deal on an annual Audible audiobook membership.
Product Review

You don't need a gaming phone, but the Red Magic 3 will make you want one

Gaming phones have arrived, and Nubia has pulled a tempting example from its top hat in the shape of the impressive Red Magic 3. A huge display, speedy performance, and more make this a dream phone for gaming.
Movies & TV

Jon Favreau already working on The Mandalorian's second season for Disney+

Disney is bringing the full weight of its massive content library to its own streaming service in 2019. How will Disney+ compare to Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime? Here's what we know so far.

Lose the key for your favorite software? These handy tools can find it for you

Missing product keys getting you down? We've chosen some of the best software license and product key finders in existence, so you can locate and document your precious keys on your Windows or MacOS machine.

Use one of these password managers to help protect yourself online

The internet can be a scary place, especially if you don't have a proper password manager. This guide will show you the best password managers you can get right now, including both premium and free options.

Pegasus spyware can break into users’ cloud accounts and steal data

An Israeli software company has developed a tool with the ability to break into users' cloud-based accounts. The software has been advertised as being able to copy authentication keys and access cloud services like Google Drive or iCloud.
Small Business

The 15 best tech jobs boast top salaries, high satisfaction, lots of openings

The bonanza of tech jobs just keeps coming. High-paying tech jobs abound at companies where people love to work. If you’re ready to make a change, this is a great time to look for something more fulfilling.   

Gmail's unsend email feature is one of its best. Here's how to use it

Everyone has sent a message they wish they could take back. How great would it be if you could undo that impulsive email? If you're a Gmail user, you can. Here's how to recall an email in Gmail.

How to change your Gmail password whenever you want in just a few quick steps

Regularly updating your passwords is a good way to stay secure online, but each site and service has their own way of doing it. Here's a quick guide on how to change your Gmail password in a few short steps.

Here's how to download a YouTube video to watch offline later

Learning how to download YouTube videos is easier than you might think. There are tools you can use both online and offline. This step-by-step guide will instruct you on how to use them.

Need to rip audio from a video? Here's how to download music from YouTube

Ripping audio from YouTube has never been easier, but with so many tools on offer, which is the best? Our guide will teach you how to download music from YouTube with two different tools. Just proceed with caution.

If you work in an office, you should know how to recall an email in Outlook

If you're an outlook user who sent an angry email and really wish you hadn't, then you're in luck. There are ways to recall that email, but you'll have to act fast. Here's how to recall an email in outlook.

Need a free alternative to Adobe Illustrator? Here are our favorites

Photoshop and other commercial tools can be expensive, but drawing software doesn't need to be. The best free drawing software is just as powerful as some of the more expensive offerings.