Mark Stabile, Bénédicte Apouey, Isabelle Solal, 01 April 2020

While some countries have provided assistance to workers unable to perform tasks from home during the COVID-19 pandemic, certain categories of workers tend to fall through the cracks of these programmes. This column reports the findings of a survey of precarious workers in France, including gig economy workers such food delivery bikers. Traditional gig economy workers with incomes under €1,000 a month were more likely to keep working despite the highly elevated health risk of doing so, suggesting that the support in place is leaving some low-income workers exposed.

Vyacheslav Fos, Naser Hamdi, Ankit Kalda, Jordan Nickerson, 29 March 2020

The growth of the gig economy has renewed debates about how to regulate employers who provide neither health insurance nor social security benefits to their employees. Using a combination of Uber product launch dates and employee-level data on job separations, this column finds that employees who are laid off from their formal occupations but have access to Uber are less likely to rely on unemployment insurance. Instead, gig labour provides a safety net as they search for more permanent work in the formal market.

Judith A. Chevalier, 18 February 2019

Judy Chevalier from Yale School of Management asks whether flexibility provides benefits to gig workers, based on data collected from 200,000 Uber drivers over a 9-month period.

Arindrajit Dube, Jeff Jacobs, Suresh Naidu, Siddharth Suri, 21 May 2018

Monopsony refers to the market power that employers wield in labour markets. This column explores monopsony power in online labour markets, using observational and experimental data from Amazon’s Mechanical Turk platform. Both datasets suggest an employer labour supply elasticity of close to 0.1, suggesting that a 10% reduction in wages would only see a 1% drop in willing labour. This points to substantial employer market power in a supposedly frictionless setting. 

Koen Frenken, Arnoud van Waes, Magda Smink, Rinie van Est, 03 April 2018

The success of Airbnb and Uber has heralded the rise of online platforms and marketplaces for goods and services. This column identifies public interests that are common to most sharing and gig platforms, and presents a policy framework based on four basic policy options: enforce existing regulations, enact new regulations, deregulate, or tolerate.

Josh Angrist, Sydnee Caldwell, Jonathan Hall, 08 December 2017

Ridesharing services like Uber and Lyft have disrupted taxi markets in many countries around the world. This column examines the differences between rideshare services and taxis from the driver’s point of view. It argues that the crucial difference comes down to the need to lease a medallion to drive a taxi versus the pro rata fee that rideshare services charge. Many high-volume drivers display ‘lease aversion’, opting for the pro rata rideshare service despite the lease model for taxis offering a better return.

Jacques Bughin, Jan Mischke, 28 November 2016

The ‘gig economy’ refers to the independent workforce, including those drawing income from new digital platforms such as Uber and Airbnb. This column uses a survey of 8,000 respondents in the US, the UK, Germany, Sweden, France, and Spain to explode some myths about this relatively new and controversial side of the economy. Among the findings are that existing statistics severely underestimate the size of the gig economy, and that 30% of those working independently do not do so out of choice.

Events

CEPR Policy Research