An Intersectional Field Study of Ethnic and Gender Discrimination on the Rental Housing Market in Brussels Capital Region

Pieter-Paul Verhaeghe, Vrije Universiteit Brussel

Ethnic and gender discrimination refers to the unequal treatment of people because of their origin or gender. Although many studies have already examined ethnic discrimination on the housing market, very few have followed an intersectional perspective on discrimination in which ethnicity and gender are studied together. This is problematic because ethnic discrimination often depends on the involved gender group, and vice versa. The aim of this study is, therefore, to examine ethnic and gender discrimination on the rental housing market in Belgium in an intersectional framework. For this aim, we made use of a series of field experiments, in which two quasi-identical rental candidates apply by e-mail to 5451 rental advertisements in Brussels Capital Region in Belgium. For each vacant dwelling, the applications of both candidates were similar, except for their ethnic-cultural background and/or gender. Afterwards, we examined to which extent both candidates are equally treated or not by real estate agents. In this field study, the treatment of four broad ethnic-cultural categories are intersectionally compared (Belgian, Sub-Sahara African, Maghrebian, and Eastern-European origin). The results show that rental candidates of Sub-Sahara African and Maghrebian origin are adversely treated than their Belgian counterparts: they receive less invitations to visit the dwelling and more additional questions about their situation. Rental applicants of Eastern-European origin are, however, not discriminated against. Moreover, within each ethnic-cultural minority group female candidates are adversely treated than male candidates. They carry the double weight of being ethnically different and female. In general, we found substantial ethnic and gender discrimination on the rental housing market in Brussels Capital Region.

Presented in Session 1232: International Migration and Migrant Populations