Housing Discrimination and the Toxics Exposure Gap in the United States: Evidence from the Rental Market

Peter Christensen, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign
Ignacio Sarmiento-Barbieri, University of Los Andes
Christopher Timmins, Duke University
Publication Date:
Jul 2022
Project Programs:
Race, Ethnicity, and Immigration

Local pollution exposures have a disproportionate impact on minority households, but the root causes remain unclear. This study conducts a correspondence experiment on a major online housing platform to test whether housing discrimination constrains minority access to housing options in markets with significant sources of airborne chemical toxics. We find that renters with African American or Hispanic/Latinx names are 41% less likely than renters with white names to receive responses for properties in low-exposure locations. We find no evidence of discriminatory constraints in high-exposure locations, indicating that discrimination increases relative access to housing choices at elevated exposure risk.


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