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Monopsony in Online Labor Markets


  • Arindrajit Dube
  • Jeff Jacobs
  • Suresh Naidu
  • Siddharth Suri


Despite the seemingly low switching and search costs of on-demand labor markets like Amazon Mechanical Turk, we find substantial monopsony power, as measured by the elasticity of labor supply facing the requester (employer). We isolate plausibly exogenous variation in rewards using a double machine learning estimator applied to a large dataset of scraped MTurk tasks. We also reanalyze data from five MTurk experiments that randomized payments to obtain corresponding experimental estimates. Both approaches yield uniformly low labor supply elasticities, around 0.1, with little heterogeneity. Our results suggest monopsony might also be present even in putatively "thick" labor markets.

Suggested Citation

  • Arindrajit Dube & Jeff Jacobs & Suresh Naidu & Siddharth Suri, 2020. "Monopsony in Online Labor Markets," American Economic Review: Insights, American Economic Association, vol. 2(1), pages 33-46, March.
  • Handle: RePEc:aea:aerins:v:2:y:2020:i:1:p:33-46
    DOI: 10.1257/aeri.20180150

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    References listed on IDEAS

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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • C44 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Econometric and Statistical Methods: Special Topics - - - Operations Research; Statistical Decision Theory
    • J22 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Time Allocation and Labor Supply
    • J23 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Labor Demand
    • J42 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Particular Labor Markets - - - Monopsony; Segmented Labor Markets


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