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Online Labour Index: Measuring the Online Gig Economy for Policy and Research

Kässi, Otto and Lehdonvirta, Vili (2016): Online Labour Index: Measuring the Online Gig Economy for Policy and Research.

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Abstract

Labour markets are thought to be in the midst of a dramatic transformation, where standard employment is increasingly supplemented or substituted by temporary gig work mediated by online platforms. Yet the scale and scope of these changes is hard to assess, because conventional labour market statistics and economic indicators are ill-suited to measuring online gig work. We present the Online Labour Index (OLI), a new economic indicator that provides the online gig economy equivalent of conventional labour market statistics. It measures the utilization of online labour across countries and occupations by tracking the number of projects and tasks posted on platforms in near-real time. We describe how the OLI is constructed and demonstrate how it can be used to address previously unanswered questions about the online gig economy; in particular, we show that the online gig economy grew at an annualized rate of 14 percent. To benefit policymakers, labour market researchers, and the general public, the index is available as an open data set and interactive online visualization, which are automatically updated daily

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