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Does the sharing economy increase inequality within the eighty percent?: findings from a qualitative study of platform providers


  • Juliet B. Schor


The sharing economy has generated controversy for its effects on labour conditions, wages and the distributions of income and wealth. In this article, we present evidence for a previously unrecognized effect: increased income inequality among the bottom 80% of the distribution. On the basis of interviews with US providers on three for-profit platforms (Airbnb, RelayRides and TaskRabbit), we find that providers are highly educated and many have well-paying full-time jobs. They use the platforms to augment their incomes. Furthermore, many are engaging in manual labour, including cleaning, moving and other tasks that are traditionally done by workers with low educational attainment, suggesting a crowding-out effect.

Suggested Citation

  • Juliet B. Schor, 2017. "Does the sharing economy increase inequality within the eighty percent?: findings from a qualitative study of platform providers," Cambridge Journal of Regions, Economy and Society, Cambridge Political Economy Society, vol. 10(2), pages 263-279.
  • Handle: RePEc:oup:cjrecs:v:10:y:2017:i:2:p:263-279.

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    More about this item


    sharing economy; income inequality; platform economy; Airbnb; TaskRabbit;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • J01 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - General - - - Labor Economics: General
    • J46 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Particular Labor Markets - - - Informal Labor Market
    • Z13 - Other Special Topics - - Cultural Economics - - - Economic Sociology; Economic Anthropology; Language; Social and Economic Stratification


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