The Polarisation of Remote Work

78 Pages Posted: 11 Oct 2021

See all articles by Fabian Braesemann

Fabian Braesemann

University of Oxford - Oxford Internet Institute

Fabian Stephany

University of Oxford - Oxford Internet Institute; Bruegel; Alexander von Humboldt Institute for Internet and Society

Ole Teutloff

University of Copenhagen - Copenhagen Center for Social Data Science

Otto Kässi

Etla

Mark Graham

University of Oxford - Oxford Internet Institute

Vili Lehdonvirta

University of Oxford - Oxford Internet Institute

Date Written: August 28, 2021

Abstract

The Covid-19 pandemic has led to the rise of remote work with consequences for the global division of work.
Remote work could connect labour markets, but it could also increase spatial polarisation. However, our understanding of the geographies of remote work is limited. Specifically, does remote work bring jobs to rural areas or is it concentrating in large cities, and how do skill requirements affect competition for jobs and wages? We use data from a fully remote labour market - an online labour platform - to show that remote work is polarised along three dimensions. First, countries are globally divided: North American, European, and South Asian remote workers attract most jobs, while many Global South countries participate only marginally. Secondly, remote jobs are pulled to urban regions; rural areas fall behind. Thirdly, remote work is polarised along the skill axis: workers with in-demand skills attract profitable jobs, while others face intense competition and obtain low wages.
The findings suggest that remote work is shaped by agglomerative forces, which are deepening the gap between urban and rural areas. To make remote work an effective tool for rural development, it needs to be embedded in local skill-building and labour market programmes.

Keywords: Remote work, Online labour, Platform economy, Geography, Polarisation

JEL Classification: F6, F16, J24, J31, L14, O15

Suggested Citation

Braesemann, Fabian and Stephany, Fabian and Teutloff, Ole and Kässi, Otto and Graham, Mark and Lehdonvirta, Vili, The Polarisation of Remote Work (August 28, 2021). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3919655 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3919655

Fabian Braesemann (Contact Author)

University of Oxford - Oxford Internet Institute ( email )

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

Fabian Stephany

University of Oxford - Oxford Internet Institute ( email )

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

Bruegel ( email )

Rue de la Charité 33
B-1210 Brussels Belgium, 1210
Belgium

Alexander von Humboldt Institute for Internet and Society ( email )

Bebelplatz 1 | 10099
Berlin
Germany

Ole Teutloff

University of Copenhagen - Copenhagen Center for Social Data Science ( email )

Øster Farimagsgade 5A
University of Copenhagen
Copenhagen, 1353
Denmark

HOME PAGE: http://https://sodas.ku.dk/

Otto Kässi

Etla ( email )

Lonnrotink. 4 B
FIN-00120 Helsinki, 00120
United States

HOME PAGE: http://www.etla.fi

Mark Graham

University of Oxford - Oxford Internet Institute ( email )

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

HOME PAGE: http://www.geospace.co.uk

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

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