Unemployment and Online Labor - Evidence from Microtasking

Posted: 15 May 2018 Last revised: 22 Jun 2022

See all articles by Ulrich Laitenberger

Ulrich Laitenberger

Télécom Paris; ZEW – Leibniz Centre for European Economic Research

Steffen Viete

German Council of Economic Experts

Olga Slivko

Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University

Michael E. Kummer

University of East Anglia (UEA)

Kathrin Borchert

Institut für Informatik

Matthias Hirth

University of Würzburg

Date Written: 2018

Abstract

We analyze the relationship between unemployment and the supply of online labor for microtasking. Using detailed US data from a large microtasking platform between 2011 and
2015, we study the participation and the number of hours supplied by workers in the US.
We find that more individuals registered on the platform and completed microtasks as the
unemployment level in the commuting zone increased. This effect was strongest in regions
with a high share of low-skill workers. Our analyses of the intensive margin, the wage elasticity, and the temporal work patterns suggest that the increased participation was likely
motivated by an effort to substitute income. Our findings suggest that microtasking platforms appear to be an interesting online labor market for less educated workers. However,
we also observe very low retention rates, indicative of a solely transient participation effect.

Keywords: Crowdworking; Online platform; Unemployment; Wage Elasticity

JEL Classification: J21, D29, D80, H41, J60, L17

Suggested Citation

Laitenberger, Ulrich and Viete, Steffen and Slivko, Olga and Kummer, Michael and Borchert, Kathrin and Hirth, Matthias, Unemployment and Online Labor - Evidence from Microtasking (2018). ZEW - Centre for European Economic Research Discussion Paper No. 18-023, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3178692 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3178692

Ulrich Laitenberger

Télécom Paris ( email )

46 rue Barrault
Paris, Cedex 13 75634
France

ZEW – Leibniz Centre for European Economic Research ( email )

P.O. Box 10 34 43
L 7,1
Mannheim, 68034
Germany

Steffen Viete

German Council of Economic Experts ( email )

Federal Statistical Office
Gustav-Stresemann-Ring 11
Wiesbaden, Hessen 65180
Germany

Olga Slivko

Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University ( email )

RSM Erasmus University
PO Box 1738
3000 DR Rotterdam
Netherlands

Michael Kummer

University of East Anglia (UEA) ( email )

Norwich Research Park
Norwich, Norfolk NR4 7TJ
United Kingdom

Kathrin Borchert (Contact Author)

Institut für Informatik ( email )

Sanderring 2
Würzburg, 97070
Germany

Matthias Hirth

University of Würzburg ( email )

Sanderring 2
Würzburg, 97070
Germany

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