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Economics of the Gig Economy

Geoff Riley

11th July 2017

To mark the publication of the Taylor Report on Employment Practices in the Modern Economy, we are curating a set of study resources for students and teachers on the economics of the Gig Economy.

What is the Gig Economy?

One definition of the Gig Economy is that it is fragmented work where someone is given a task for a certain amount of time. People are providing a service nearly always through a digital platform. 

The Gig Economy is a labour market characterised by the prevalence of short-term contracts or freelance work, as opposed to permanent jobs where many workers do not have the employment protection, pension support and other benefits associated with permanent contracted work. There might also be a dearth of on the job training.

Gig economy companies often operate in industries that have historically relied on self-employed workforces. Well-known Gig Economy businesses include Uber, Amazon, Hermes and Deliveroo.

Who's working in the 'gig economy'?

Read this article from Full Fact

The rise of self employment in the UK

According to a recent House of Commons research report, "The self-employed are a large and growing part of the UK labour force. Five million people—15% of workers—are now self-employed, and the expansion of self-employment has played a significant part in current record employment levels"

"Self-employed people are not covered by employment law. They have very few rights at work, limited to protection for health and safety purposes, and some protection against discrimination."

What is the precariat?

The precariat is a term created by economist Guy Standing to describe jobs in the Gig Economy where the hours and incomes of those in self employed are precarious from week to week and month to month.

News articles related to the Gig Economy and the Taylor Report

National Insurance tax hit for gig economy firms (BBC)

Workers' rights review: Why you should care (Sky News)

Articles on the Gig Economy from the Guardian

Good Gigs A fairer future for the UK’s gig economy (RSA report)

'Gig economy' workers 'should get minimum wage' (BBC)

Massive surge in London's Gig Economy (New Economics Foundation)

Taylor Review to say gig economy workers are 'dependent contractors' (Wired)

What is the Gig Economy?​
Pros and Cons of the Gig Economy
Poor worker conditions power gig economy

Geoff Riley

Geoff Riley FRSA has been teaching Economics for over thirty years. He has over twenty years experience as Head of Economics at leading schools. He writes extensively and is a contributor and presenter on CPD conferences in the UK and overseas.

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