Gender and the gig economy: critical steps for evidence-based policy

Working and discussion papers
January 2019
Woman walking in city, Ghana. Photo: Arne Hoel/The World Bank CC-BY-NC-ND

The gig economy – in which digital platforms link workers with the purchasers of their services – is growing globally. Yet there has been little research to date on its impacts in low- and middle-income countries or on gendered experiences of gig work. This lack of knowledge critically limits the ability of policy-makers to understand women’s experiences of the gig economy and, therefore, to develop evidence-based policy responses to ensure the gig economy works for all involved.

This paper presents a wide-ranging review of evidence on workers’ experiences of the ‘on-demand’ gig economy, which typically provides less-skilled and lower-remunerated jobs than other forms of gig work, and situates the gig economy within wider technological, economic and labour market trends. It highlights the impact of the gig economy on women, who face disadvantages related to poverty and intersecting inequalities, and lays out next steps to fill knowledge gaps to ensure apt policy and regulation in the gig economy era.