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The Gender Earnings Gap in the Gig Economy: Evidence from over a Million Rideshare Drivers


  • Cody Cook
  • Rebecca Diamond
  • Jonathan Hall
  • John A. List
  • Paul Oyer


The growth of the “gig” economy generates worker flexibility that, some have speculated, will favor women. We explore this by examining labor supply choices and earnings among more than a million rideshare drivers on Uber in the U.S. We document a roughly 7% gender earnings gap amongst drivers. We completely explain this gap and show that it can be entirely attributed to three factors: experience on the platform (learning-by-doing), preferences over where to work (driven largely by where drivers live and, to a lesser extent, safety), and preferences for driving speed. We do not find that men and women are differentially affected by a taste for specific hours, a return to within-week work intensity, or customer discrimination. Our results suggest that there is no reason to expect the “gig” economy to close gender differences. Even in the absence of discrimination and in flexible labor markets, women’s relatively high opportunity cost of non-paid-work time and gender-based differences in preferences and constraints can sustain a gender pay gap.

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  • 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.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:24732
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Susan Athey & Michael Luca, 2019. "Economists (and Economics) in Tech Companies," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 33(1), pages 209-230, Winter.
    2. Kevin A. Bryan & Joshua S. Gans, 2019. "A theory of multihoming in rideshare competition," Journal of Economics & Management Strategy, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 28(1), pages 89-96, January.
    3. Paul Oyer, 2020. "The gig economy," IZA World of Labor, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA), pages 471-471, January.
    4. Bharat K. Chandar & Ali Hortaçsu & John A. List & Ian Muir & Jeffrey M. Wooldridge, 2019. "Design and Analysis of Cluster-Randomized Field Experiments in Panel Data Settings," NBER Working Papers 26389, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    5. 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.
    6. Basil Halperin & Benjamin Ho & John List & Ian Muir, 2018. "Toward an understanding of the economics of apologies: evidence from a large-scale natural field experiment," Natural Field Experiments 00644, The Field Experiments Website.
    7. Ni Huang & Gordon Burtch & Yili Hong & Paul A. Pavlou, 2020. "Unemployment and Worker Participation in the Gig Economy: Evidence from an Online Labor Market," Information Systems Research, INFORMS, vol. 31(2), pages 431-448, June.
    8. Tang, Johnny Jiahao, 2020. "Individual heterogeneity and cultural attitudes in credence goods provision," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 126(C).
    9. David P. Baron, 2018. "Disruptive Entrepreneurship and Dual Purpose Strategies: The Case of Uber," Strategy Science, INFORMS, vol. 3(2), pages 439-462, June.
    10. Maria Cesira Urzi Brancati & Annarosa Pesole & Enrique Férnandéz-Macías, 2020. "New evidence on platform workers in Europe: Results from the second COLLEEM survey," JRC Working Papers JRC118570, Joint Research Centre (Seville site).
    11. Yang Pan & LiangFei Qiu, 2018. "Is Uber Helping or Hurting Mass Transit? An Empirical Investigation," Working Papers 18-11, NET Institute.
    12. Sabrina T. Howell & Ramana Nanda, 2019. "Networking Frictions in Venture Capital, and the Gender Gap in Entrepreneurship," NBER Working Papers 26449, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    13. Abel, Martin, 2019. "Do Workers Discriminate against Female Bosses?," IZA Discussion Papers 12611, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    14. Yana Gallen, 2018. "Motherhood and the Gender Productivity Gap," Working Papers 2018-091, Human Capital and Economic Opportunity Working Group.
    15. François Contensou & Radu Vranceanu, 2019. "Working time and wage rate differences : a contract theory approach," Working Papers hal-02386781, HAL.
    16. Chen Liang & Yili Hong & Bin Gu & Jing Peng, 2018. "Gender Wage Gap in Online Gig Economy and Gender Differences in Job Preferences," Working Papers 18-03, NET Institute.
    17. Adams-Prassl, Abigail, 2020. "The Gender Wage Gap on an Online Labour Market: The Cost of Interruptions," CEPR Discussion Papers 14294, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.

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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • J16 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Economics of Gender; Non-labor Discrimination
    • J31 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Wages, Compensation, and Labor Costs - - - Wage Level and Structure; Wage Differentials

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