Lone parent seeks apartment: Housing discrimination and family status in Paris

By Laetitia Challe, Julie Le Gallo, Yannick L’Horty, Loïc du Parquet, Pascale Petit, Catriona Dutreuilh

Despite a growing body of research on discrimination, the role of family status in access to housing in France has not been explored. Yet discrimination of this kind may severely affect people’s lives. We present a paired audit’s findings on the private housing rental market in Paris, where homes are in short supply and lone-parent families are over-represented. Between December 2017 and late March 2018, four requests for visits were sent in response to 791 rental ads, or 3,164 messages. One of the fictitious individuals had a male partner and two children; the other three, one man and two women, were lone parents. This study is a statistical analysis of the answers to these inquiries. We provide evidence of discrimination against lone mothers on the Parisian rental market. The lone mother with children was treated less well in certain cases, notably when enquiring about larger apartments (2–3 bedrooms). One possible explanation lies in the status of lone mothers with children, whom agents and landlords may see as presenting a risk of financial insecurity, thus reducing their chances of finding a home of this kind to rent.

  • discrimination
  • housing
  • controlled experiment
  • Paris
  • family status
  • lone parent
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