News and Media

Working Without Borders: The Promise and Peril of Online Gig Work

In the last decade, we have seen a fundamental shift in traditional work patterns, facilitated by technology. Work is being contracted and performed in different ways while new business models and digital labour platforms further facilitate the economic opportunity available through the internet (World Bank 2019). Digital gig jobs have now gained momentum (Eurofound 2020). But, how many gig platforms and participants are there? Is it inclusive? How can policies balance the promise and peril of gig work?

This report by The World Bank offers valuable insights into these promises and perils. RIWI is proud to have been a partner in this research, facilitating a global survey of online gig workers across 17 countries and 13 languages.

Here are some key insights from the report:

  1. Gig platforms lower the entry barrier for non‑English‑speaking populations, as revealed by the World Bank’s global survey facilitated by RIWI, which was conducted in 12 local languages in addition to English. The Chinese version of the survey, was able to source additional data on the Chinese gig workforce, a market which many studies find difficult to capture.
  2. The majority of online gig workers are individuals under the age of 30 seeking income, new skills, or the flexibility that online work has to offer – specifically when balancing school or multiple jobs.
  3. In most regions studies, women participate more in the online gig economy than they do in the general labour market, informal sector, or the services sector. The gender wage gap still exists considerably in the online gig economy, with female gig worker wages sitting at only 68% of their male counterparts’ wages on a major gig platform in Latin America.
  4. While intermediate and highly skilled online gig workers dominate the sector, there are individuals with varying skill levels participating in the online gig economy.
  5. Currently, 6 of 10 online gig workers live and work from small cities. This finding highlights the role that online gig work could play in addressing the inequalities in job and therefore economic opportunities across regions.
  6. Informal and gig work share characteristics such as falling outside of labor regulations and failing to provide workers with access to social insurance and benefits. Certain governments are working toward extending social insurance to workers in these positions. These governments include;  Brazil, Colombia, India, Kenya, Malaysia, Rwanda, and Uruguay.
  7. There are many opportunities for governments to leverage amidst the gig economy such as working to increase inclusivity in areas without many local jobs. For example, partnering with online gig platforms could assist in providing training and support for disadvantaged individuals or groups and to enable access to income‑earning opportunities.

Read the full report here:

For more information on RIWI’s global reach with online surveys, reach out to