Does the sharing economy increase inequality within the eighty percent?: Findings from a qualitative study of platform providers

The sharing economy has generated controversy for its effects on labor conditions, wages and the distributions of income and wealth. In this paper we present evidence for a previously unrecognized effect: increased income inequality among the bottom 80% of the distribution. On the basis of interviews with U.S. providers on three for-profit platforms (Airbnb, RelayRides and TaskRabbit) we find that providers are highly educated and many have well-paying full-time jobs. They use the platforms to augment their incomes. Furthermore, many are engaging in manual labor, including cleaning, moving and other tasks that are traditionally done by workers with low educational attainment, suggesting a crowding-out effect.

Schor, J. (2017), 'Does the sharing economy increase inequality within the eighty percent?: Findings from a qualitative study of platform providers', Cambridge Journal of Regions, Economy and Society, 10(2), pp. 263-279.

Metadata

  • Research publication, Case study-worker
  • United States
  • Yes
  • household tasks, transport, accommodation
  • On-location client-determined moderately skilled work, On-location platform-determined routine work
  • Airbnb, RelayRides, TaskRabbit
  • competition, income
  • English
  • Cambridge Journal of Regions, Economy and Society (Publisher)
  • Qualitative research
  • 2017
  • Subscription
Disclaimer  —  Eurofound aims to keep the information in this database up to date and accurate. If errors are brought to our attention, we will try to correct them. However, Eurofound bears no responsibility or liability whatsoever with regard to the accuracy or content of this database or of external links over which Eurofound services have no control and for which Eurofound assumes no responsibility.