The topic of my latest Economics Explained episode is the so-called gig economy. Across the world, we’ve seen a surge in freelancing and contract work, facilitated by the proliferation of laptops and smartphones, and by web platforms such as Uber and Upwork.
The gig economy benefits consumers through lower prices and greater choice. Check out how many local restaurants are participating in Uber Eats for example. And obviously the gig economy benefits the platform businesses which have multi-billion-dollar valuations. But does the gig economy benefit the workers, the people working gig-by-gig?
This question and others were considered in the conversation I had on 12 October with my good friend Darren Brady Nelson, a professional economist who has worked for many years as a freelancer and contractor. Darren’s professional career began in the NSW Treasury in the 1990s. In addition to his economic consulting work, Darren has contributed regularly to a variety of publications, including the Cayman Financial Review. He has also served as an adviser to politicians. For instance, in 2017, Darren was economic adviser to Queensland Senator Malcolm Roberts.
Darren joined us via Skype from co-working space Work Lofts in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, which has a range of features designed to make freelancers and entrepreneurs comfortable, including beer and sparkling water on tap and coffee (see image below).
The following articles were mentioned in the interview:
OECD Working Paper – Gig Economy Platforms: Boon or Bane?
Mises Institute article – Is the Sharing Economy Exploitative?
In the episode, I alluded to the regulators taking a dim view of Uber in London. The latest news is that Uber is effectively on probation in London:
Uber gets two-month operating license in London. It wanted five years