New York University Study Shows Neighborhood Stigma Impacts Online Transactions

nyuA new study by sociologists at New York University finds that neighborhood stigma impacts transactions on online marketing sites.

Researchers placed ads for used iPhones on online exchanges in 12 cities. Similar ads were placed that had different locations where the buyer and seller would meet to complete the transaction. The results showed that ads listing low-income neighborhoods received 16 percent fewer responses than ads listing more affluent areas. For ads listing low-income neighborhoods that are predominantly Black, 21 percent fewer responses were received.

Max Besbris, a doctoral student in sociology at New York University and the lead author of the study, stated that “even the perceptions, true or false, that potential buyers had of a neighborhood influenced their likelihood to respond to an ad, and thus limited the economic opportunities of the seller. Where an individual resides thus plays a critical role in their success as participants in economic exchanges, which affects their ability to make a living.”

Besbris hypothesizes that “buyers used residence to infer the seller’s race or ethnicity, economic status, trustworthiness, or dependability. There are plenty of characteristics that get ascribed to individuals based simply on where they live.”

The paper, “Effect of Neighborhood Stigma on Economic Transactions,” was published on the website of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. It may be accessed here.

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