16 September, 2020 – The Visible Host: Does race guide Airbnb rental rates in San Francisco?, Dr. Venoo Kakar, Associate Professor of Economics, San Francisco State University.

The Visible Host: Does race guide Airbnb rental rates in San Francisco?

Wednesday, September 16, 11:20AM (New Delhi)


Speaker: Dr. Venoo Kakar, Associate Professor of Economics, San Francisco State University

Moderated by: Dr. Chitrakalpa Sen, Associate Professor (Economics) and Assistant Dean, JGBS



Peer to Peer e-commerce is increasingly characterized by trends towards the personalization of buyers and sellers in the on-line marketplace. This personalization includes buyer reviews, personal pictures and profiles, and other biographical information intended to reduce buyers’ perceived “purchase risk”or to facilitate trust in the sellers. However, this phenomenon is transforming what started as an essentially “anonymous”market to one susceptible to traditional market failures, including potential racial discrimrination, in a manner similar to its brick and mortar counterparts. In this paper, we examine the effect of on-line host information (race, gender, sexual orientation, etc.) on the price of available rental listings in San Francisco on Airbnb.com. We find that on average, Asian and Hispanic hosts charge 8%-10% lower prices relative to their White counterparts on equivalent rental properties, after controlling for all renter- available information on rental unit characteristics, as well as additional information on neighborhood property values, area demographics, and occupancy rates. We do not find any differences in occupancy rates between minority and White hosts. Overall, our findings are consistent with but not conclusive of a market test of potential racial discrimination affecting Hispanic Airbnb hosts, manifested in an anticipation of disparate market demand for their rentals, and responded to by lower listing prices.




Dr. Venoo Kakar is an Associate Professor of Economics at San Francisco State University. She earned her M.A. and Ph.D from the University of California at Riverside with a focus in Macroeconomics and Econometrics and her B.A. from Lady Shri Ram College, University of Delhi. She has previously worked in the area of Development Economics at the World Bank and the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) in India.


Dr. Kakar’s research is on topics that overlap with consumer finances, housing, economic growth and inequality, linkages between monetary policy and financial conditions, and economic demography. Her scholarly work has been widely published in journals such as Economic Modelling, Journal of Consumer Affairs, Journal of Housing Economics etc. She has also been interviewed about her research on Marketplace Weekend, a popular show on National Public Radio (NPR) and her work has been disseminated in prestigious outlets such as the Journalist’s Resource of Harvard Kennedy School and the National Affairs magazine. She teaches courses in Macroeconomics, Econometrics and Forecasting and more recently started the Big Data Summer Program at SFSU. More here: http://www.venookakar.com/


Lecture recording: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-3SnNDiHyaE