We will conduct a field experiment to estimate the extent of discrimination toward LGTBI, migrants, and women in the Ecuadorian real estate market. We will hire 600-750 real estate agents to evaluate ten applications online to real estate properties (each application consisting of two families). We will employ agents in Quito and Guayaquil. They should select the family more suitable for each property, rate the suitability of all applicants for the property, and suggest a leasing amount each family should pay, given their risk level. This methodology fits within the class of vignette and factorial survey studies.
We will run the experiment will be conducted between October 2022 and February 2023. We will pay the real estate agents with gift cards, and they will be recruited as part of a research study where we will consult their professional services.
All participants will evaluate the same set of ten pairs of candidates associated with unique properties. In nine properties, the pair of applicants will include one from a minority background (either LGTBI, woman, or migrant). We designed each applicant pair for the minority attribute in one of the applicants to be conspicuous. Applicants in each pair are qualitative equivalent in all characteristics except for their minority condition. We will task the real estate agents to complete four activities: first, select the best applicant for the property; second, evaluate their suitability for the property on a scale from 1 to 10; third, suggest a leasing amount; and; 4) rate on a scale from 1 to 10 different aspects that could have influenced their choice, such as the probability that the applicant complies with the contract in terms of time; the likelihood that the applicant complies with the agreement in terms of payments; the chance of renewing the lease, and; the applicant's occupation.
We will interview the recruiters when we hire them to obtain information about their sociodemographic characteristics and cognitive and socio-emotional abilities. We will collect data about the interaction of agents with the online platform in terms of the time employed to review applications and study patterns of association between those times and personal characteristics. We will use that data to identify potential channels and understand whether some or all of those factors increase the agents' propensity to discriminate.
Properties and families were carefully crafted to replicate market conditions based on findings from a preliminary qualitative study. We conducted interviews with stakeholders to understand the functioning of the real estate market in both cities and focus groups. The characteristic of the properties to be displayed in the platform include the total rent value, a general description of the property (area, age, and stratum), and some other attributes such as the number of bedrooms, bathrooms, parking spaces, balcony, etc. We also included a list of secondary characteristics of the properties, including concierge service, common areas, etc., information about the neighborhood, and property photographs.
We designed 20 applicants' pairs of profiles in each city: 10 for Quito and 10 for Guayaquil. In each city, there will be three duplets where gender is the minority condition, three migrants, and three where LGTBI is the minority condition. There will also be one placebo duplet.
Before starting the eighth round of the experiment, we will randomize half of the agents with a pop-up message. The message will tell the agents that minorities must overcome disadvantages to perform similarly to non-minorities. Then the agents will have to finish the remaining experiment trials (i.e., trials 8, 9, and 10). We will measure the impact of that message on the outcomes of interest using experimental and nonexperimental methods.