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An analysis of the individual economics of ride-hailing drivers


  • Henao, Alejandro
  • Marshall, Wesley E.


Ride-hailing companies are disrupting transportation at a large scale while also providing economic opportunities to millions of drivers. Companies such as Uber and Lyft constantly promote potential earnings on the order of $25–$35 per hour. Yet, the advertised earnings do not account for factors such as time spent without passengers, the need to travel back-and-forth between areas of low and high ridership, driver residential location, or driving expenses. By examining a unique and detailed dataset collected using ethnographic methods – primary data collected by one of the authors who became an independent contractor to drive for both Uber and Lyft in the Denver area – we examine actual earnings with three common expense scenarios to answer the question of how much ride-hailing drivers actually earn.

Suggested Citation

  • Henao, Alejandro & Marshall, Wesley E., 2019. "An analysis of the individual economics of ride-hailing drivers," Transportation Research Part A: Policy and Practice, Elsevier, vol. 130(C), pages 440-451.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:transa:v:130:y:2019:i:c:p:440-451
    DOI: 10.1016/j.tra.2019.09.056

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Young, Mischa & Farber, Steven, 2019. "The who, why, and when of Uber and other ride-hailing trips: An examination of a large sample household travel survey," Transportation Research Part A: Policy and Practice, Elsevier, vol. 119(C), pages 383-392.
    2. Clewlow, Regina R. & Mishra, Gouri S., 2017. "Disruptive Transportation: The Adoption, Utilization, and Impacts of Ride-Hailing in the United States," Institute of Transportation Studies, Working Paper Series qt82w2z91j, Institute of Transportation Studies, UC Davis.
    3. Schwieterman, Joseph & Smith, C. Scott, 2018. "Sharing the ride: A paired-trip analysis of UberPool and Chicago Transit Authority services in Chicago, Illinois," Research in Transportation Economics, Elsevier, vol. 71(C), pages 9-16.
    4. Cody Cook & Rebecca Diamond & Jonathan Hall & John A. List & Paul Oyer, 2018. "The Gender Earnings Gap in the Gig Economy: Evidence from over a Million Rideshare Drivers," NBER Working Papers 24732, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    5. M. Keith Chen & Judith A. Chevalier & Peter E. Rossi & Emily Oehlsen, 2017. "The Value of Flexible Work: Evidence from Uber Drivers," NBER Working Papers 23296, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    6. Young, Mischa & Farber, Steven, 2019. "The Who, Why, and When of Uber and other Ride-hailing Trips: An Examination of a Large Sample Household Travel Survey," OSF Preprints x7ryj, Center for Open Science.
    7. Hall, Jonathan D. & Palsson, Craig & Price, Joseph, 2018. "Is Uber a substitute or complement for public transit?," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 108(C), pages 36-50.
    8. Jonathan V. Hall & Alan B. Krueger, 2015. "An Analysis of the Labor Market for Uber's Driver-Partners in the United States," Working Papers 587, Princeton University, Department of Economics, Industrial Relations Section..
    9. Bösch, Patrick M. & Becker, Felix & Becker, Henrik & Axhausen, Kay W., 2018. "Cost-based analysis of autonomous mobility services," Transport Policy, Elsevier, vol. 64(C), pages 76-91.
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    Cited by:

    1. Wells, Peter & Wang, Xiaobei & Wang, Liqiao & Liu, Haokun & Orsato, Renato, 2020. "More friends than foes? The impact of automobility-as-a-service on the incumbent automotive industry," Technological Forecasting and Social Change, Elsevier, vol. 154(C).
    2. Morris, Eric A. & Zhou, Ying & Brown, Anne E. & Khan, Sakib M. & Derochers, John L. & Campbell, Harry & Pratt, Angela N. & Chowdhury, Mashrur, 2020. "Are drivers cool with pool? Driver attitudes towards the shared TNC services UberPool and Lyft Shared," Transport Policy, Elsevier, vol. 94(C), pages 123-138.


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