The Impact of the Gig-Economy on Financial Hardship

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Presentation at the Association for Public Policy Analysis and Management Conference, Washington, D.C.

Date: November 8 – 10, 2018
Location: Washington Marriott Wardman Park, Washington, DC

On-demand peer-to-peer services (‘gigs’) coordinated by platforms like Uber, allow workers to decide for themselves when and how much to work. This flexible work arrangement offers workers granular control over their earnings. For example, an Uber driver who wants to earn more money one week can decide to spend more time driving for Uber. However, there are limits to gig-workers’ control. Platforms pay workers per service instead of per hour, so the amount a worker earns depends on the number of consumers seeking service. For example, an extra hour spent driving for Uber may be a lucrative use of time on a busy night but may not even cover expenses on a slow afternoon. The resulting lack of worker protections (e.g. minimum wage) has provoked a string of lawsuits aimed at Uber (Lien, 2006) and skepticism that gig-work improves worker welfare (McCabe and Devaney, 2015). In this paper, we analyze the net effect of gigs on the welfare of workers.

Author: Michal Grinstein-Weiss
Presenting author: Kaitlin Daniels