Why will the world’s young people take on online ‘gigs’?

By: Danielle Goldfarb and Emily Kuzan

Opportunity drives 60% of the world's online 'gig' workers aged 18-34

RIWI introduces a leading indicator to anticipate the future of online-facilitated ‘gig’ work globally. The 43-country signal includes a broad range of young people’s experiences, including those not typically included in workforce data. We find that most young adults globally do this kind of work because they view it as an opportunity, not because they have no alternatives.

Why people participate in online-facilitated 'gig' work

The term ‘gig’ economy suggests a marginal, precarious existence, but this signal suggests a possible alternative narrative. We find that about 60 percent of those 18-24, and also a similar share of those aged 25-34 that are engaged in online-facilitated ‘gig’ work, do so because they like the work or flexibility or the extra money. Still, a sizeable share is doing it in lieu of better options.

Notably, the ‘opportunity’ signal is broad-based and stable. The 60-40 breakdown is largely consistent across developed and developing economies, genders, age cohorts, and even across the type of work (location-based such as Uber or Airbnb versus selling services or products online in a global marketplace).

See data from RIWI’s work on the future of online-enabled ‘gig’ work here.