Multidimensional Discrimination in the Online Rental Housing Market: Implications for Families With Young Children

Jacob William Faber, Marie Dumesle Mercier

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


A half century after passage of the federal Fair Housing Act, studies continue to document racial discrimination in the housing market, which serves to reproduce racial inequality and residential segregation. Building on this work, we examine housing discrimination experienced by individuals belonging to multiple disadvantaged groups. Employing an online field experiment in 31 U.S. cities over 20 months, we investigate patterns of discrimination against female rental housing applicants at the intersections of race, ethnicity, family structure, and Section 8 housing voucher receipt. Consistent with prior work, we find discrimination against Black women and Section 8 recipients. We also find that only Black women and Latinas are penalized for being parents and for being single mothers to young children. Finally, examining the relevant policy landscape, we find evidence that state and local laws barring discrimination against Section 8 recipients may not be sufficient to protect voucher holders and their families and may instead prompt landlords to engage in subtler forms of discrimination (i.e., increased nonresponse). These findings reveal a dynamic pattern of multidimensional discrimination and support arguments for an intersectional approach to understanding and combatting inequality.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalHousing Policy Debate
StateAccepted/In press - 2022


  • discrimination
  • families
  • race
  • vouchers

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Development
  • Urban Studies
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law


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