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Exploring Online and Offline Informal Work : Findings from the Enterprising and Informal Work Activities (EIWA) Survey


  • Barbara J. Robles
  • Marysol McGee


The growing prevalence of alternative work arrangements has accelerated with the rapidly evolving digital platform transformations in local and global markets (Kenny and Zysman, 2015 and 2016). Although traditional (offline) informal paid work has always been a part of the labor sector (BLS-Contingent Worker Survey, 2005; GAO, 2015 and Katz and Krueger, 2016), the rise of online enabled paid work activities requires new approaches to measure this growing trend (Farrell and Greig, 2016; Gray et al, 2016; Sundararajan, 2016 and Schor, 2015). In the fourth quarter of 2015, the Federal Reserve Board conducted a nationally representative survey of adults 18 and older to track online and offline income-generating activities as well as their employment status during the six months prior to the surveys. Survey results indicate that 36 percent of respondents undertook informal paid work activities either as a complement to or as a substitute for more traditional and formal work arrangements. We explore the rationale behind respondents' participation in alternative work arrangements by setting questions that capture participant motives and attitudes towards informal offline and online paid work activities. Sixty five percent of qualified survey respondents indicate that a main reason for participating in informal work is to earn extra income.

Suggested Citation

  • Barbara J. Robles & Marysol McGee, 2016. "Exploring Online and Offline Informal Work : Findings from the Enterprising and Informal Work Activities (EIWA) Survey," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 2016-089, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (US).
  • Handle: RePEc:fip:fedgfe:2016-89
    DOI: 10.17016/FEDS.2016.089

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Michael J. Pisani, 2014. "Utilizing Informal Household-Work Substitutes along the US-Mexico Border: Evidence from South Texas," Journal of Borderlands Studies, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 29(3), pages 303-317, September.
    2. Bergman, Mindy E. & Jean, Vanessa A., 2016. "Where Have All the “Workers†Gone? A Critical Analysis of the Unrepresentativeness of Our Samples Relative to the Labor Market in the Industrial–Organizational Psychology Literature," Industrial and Organizational Psychology, Cambridge University Press, vol. 9(1), pages 84-113, March.
    3. Sarah Hamersma & Carolyn Heinrich & Peter Mueser, 2014. "Temporary Help Work: Earnings, Wages, and Multiple Job Holding," Industrial Relations: A Journal of Economy and Society, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 53(1), pages 72-100, January.
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    Cited by:

    1. Katharine Abraham & John Haltiwanger & Kristin Sandusky & James Spletzer, 2017. "Measuring the Gig Economy: Current Knowledge and Open Issues," NBER Chapters,in: Measuring and Accounting for Innovation in the 21st Century National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    2. repec:eee:bushor:v:62:y:2019:i:3:p:373-382 is not listed on IDEAS

    More about this item


    Digital economy ; On-demand economy ; Platform economy ; Gig economy ; The collaborative economy ; Sharing economy ; Informal paid work ; Online and offline paid work ; Online fee for tasks ; Fee-for-tasks ; Supplemental income generation ; Income-patching;

    JEL classification:

    • J00 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - General - - - General
    • L8 - Industrial Organization - - Industry Studies: Services
    • O0 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - General
    • R00 - Urban, Rural, Regional, Real Estate, and Transportation Economics - - General - - - General
    • H8 - Public Economics - - Miscellaneous Issues

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