Platforms were supposed to set workers free. Ride-hailing, food, and grocery delivery platforms offered a vision of flexible hours without a boss —

The gig workers index: Mixed emotions, dim prospects

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2021-09-26 15:00:12

Platforms were supposed to set workers free. Ride-hailing, food, and grocery delivery platforms offered a vision of flexible hours without a boss — get on your bike or in your car and ride or drive, earning as you go. The reality is a lot more complex. 

Rest of World, working in partnership with the research company Premise, surveyed more than 4,900 gig workers across 15 countries, trying to understand their financial situations, their emotional states, and their prospects. We focused on location-based platform work — mainly driving, riding, domestic, and care work.

We found that this kind of work is full of contradictions. Gig workers worry when they work. But many are also happy about their labor. It’s supposed to be flexible, part-time work, but more than half of gig workers make the majority of their earnings through platforms. They can earn relatively well, but they don’t see it as a long-term profession.

From workers’ responses, we scored gig work in each country across the three dimensions of the survey, to create an index of job quality. What our research shows is that gig workers do report similar issues worldwide, but there are significant variations between countries and professions.

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