ICTs and the Urban-Rural Divide: Can Online Labour Platforms Bridge the Gap?

21 Pages Posted: 27 Nov 2018 Last revised: 10 Oct 2019

See all articles by Fabian Braesemann

Fabian Braesemann

University of Oxford - Saïd Business School

Vili Lehdonvirta

University of Oxford - Oxford Internet Institute

Otto Kässi

University of Oxford - Oxford Internet Institute

Date Written: December 21, 2018

Abstract

Information and communication technologies have long been predicted to make cities as hubs of economic organisation obsolete and spread economic opportunities to rural areas. However, the actual trend in the 21st century has been the opposite. Knowledge spillovers have fuelled urbanisation and pulled job-seekers into large cities, increasing the gap to deprived rural areas. We argue that new assemblages of technologies and social practices, so-called ’online labour platforms’, have recently started to counter this trend. By providing effective formal and informal mechanisms of enforcing cooperation, these platforms for project-based remote knowledge work enable users to hire and find work across distance. In analysing data from a leading online labour platform in more than 3,000 urban and rural counties in the United States, we find that rural workers made disproportionate use of the online labour market. Rural counties also supplied, on average, higher skilled online work than urban areas did. However, many of the most deprived regions of the country did not participate in the online labour market at all. Our findings highlight the potentials and limitations of such platforms for regional economic development.

Keywords: Platform Economy, Online Labour Markets, Internet Effects on Regional Development, Rural Employment, Urban-Rural Divide, Labour Mobility, Spatial Inequality

JEL Classification: J24, J61, L17, R12

Suggested Citation

Braesemann, Fabian and Lehdonvirta, Vili and Kässi, Otto, ICTs and the Urban-Rural Divide: Can Online Labour Platforms Bridge the Gap? (December 21, 2018). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3271972 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3271972

Fabian Braesemann (Contact Author)

University of Oxford - Saïd Business School ( email )

Park End Street
University of Oxford
Oxford, Oxfordshire OX1 1HP
United Kingdom

Vili Lehdonvirta

University of Oxford - Oxford Internet Institute ( email )

1 St. Giles
University of Oxford
Oxford, Oxfordshire OX1 3JS
United Kingdom

HOME PAGE: http://www.oii.ox.ac.uk

Otto Kässi

University of Oxford - Oxford Internet Institute ( email )

1 St. Giles
University of Oxford
Oxford OX1 3PG Oxfordshire, Oxfordshire OX1 3JS
United Kingdom

Register to save articles to
your library

Register

Paper statistics

Downloads
85
Abstract Views
591
rank
296,543
PlumX Metrics