Discrimination against same-sex couples in the Portuguese rental market

September 14, 2020

A correspondence-based field experiment was carried out in the Portuguese housing market to determine whether same-sex couples are treated differently than opposite-sex couples. This is the first study of its type to explore the relation between discrimination and religiosity.

In this experiment, fictitious couples replied to real housing ads in the metropolitan areas of Porto and Lisbon via e-mail. The applicants are portrayed as married, having stable income and professions. Some of them are opposite-sex couples, others same-sex couples (female or male). The landlord replies were then classified as positive or negative.

This study finds that male same-sex couples in Portugal are 23–26 percent less likely to receive a positive reply from a landlord when compared to an opposite-sex couple. Female same-sex couples also face lower reply rates than opposite sex couples (about 10 percent lower), but this result is not statistically significant.

Interestingly, the religiosity of the inhabitants of the parish in which the apartment is located seems to have a mitigating effect on discrimination. Male same-sex couples applying to apartments located in parishes with more religious, Catholic and religiously homogenous people (with certain qualifications) face less discrimination. However, there is a positive association between discrimination and the age of the population, as well as between discrimination and the rental price both in level and per square-meter of the apartments.

The findings of this paper motivate future policy considerations by the Portuguese government to improve equal access to housing for individuals with non-normative sexual orientations.

Click here to go to the paper by Filipe Gouveia, Therese Nilsson and Niclas Berggren.