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Technology

Study: Whites Are More Likely To Use Airbnb Than Blacks

A new Pew study found that 11% of Americans have used home-sharing services, but usage rates differ across racial groups.

Airbnb's Live There Campaign, this location, Tokyo

[Photo: David Elliot, courtesy of Airbnb]

White people are more likely to have used a home-sharing service like Airbnb than black people, according to a new Pew study.

The study, which surveyed 4,787 American adults about their use of sharing and on-demand services, found that 13% of white people have used a home-sharing service, compared with just 5% of black people.

A persistent and widening racial wealth gap likely contributes in part to the disparity in home-sharing usage. Tourism can be prohibitively expensive for lower-income families, and blacks are more likely to have lower incomes.

On hospitality platforms, hosts and guests also typically see each other's photos and names before finalizing a booking, which some say facilitates racial bias. A study from Harvard Business School published in December found that Airbnb hosts are more likely to book reservations with users who have "distinctly white" names. Social media users have shared personal anecdotes about racial discrimination on Airbnb using the hashtag "#AirbnbWhileBlack."

"While no single company is going to eliminate discrimination in the world, we have long been committed to fighting discrimination and working to eliminate unconscious bias on our platform," Airbnb's director of diversity, David King, wrote in a shortly after the #AirbnbWhileBlack hashtag surfaced. Airbnb has also pointed out predominantly black neighborhoods in which it has grown rapidly.

Pew did not find similar differences across racial or ethnic groups in the ride-sharing category.

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