- Center for Migration and Development
- Princeton Institute for International and Regional Studies
- Program in Latino Studies
Recent work has demonstrated how disparate information on available neighborhoods and housing units leads to racially distinct patterns of residential mobility and ultimately reproduces residential segregation. In this this talk I will describe a novel source of information about neighborhoods that does not violate Fair Housing Laws — the use of Spanish language text in online rental housing advertisements — and examine the impact of Spanish text on White, Black, and Latinx Americans’ residential choices. First, using a corpus of millions of Craigslist advertisements for rental housing, I will show that the use of Spanish text is concentrated in advertisements for housing in majority-Latinx neighborhoods with greater proportions of immigrant residents, as well as neighborhoods with growing Black populations. I will then use a survey experiment to demonstrate how the use of Spanish text decreases White and Black Americans’ overall interest in a potential housing unit while increasing their perceptions that the surrounding neighborhood is heavily Latinx and immigrant. While Latinx Americans’ also interpret Spanish as a signal of Latinx and immigrant neighborhood concentration, Spanish usage does not diminish their interest in the housing unit. Altogether, these findings identify a novel mechanism that may contribute to Latinx residential segregation in the United States and demonstrate the value of combining ‘big’ data with survey experiments.