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Licensed Unlicensed Requires Authentication Published by De Gruyter Oldenbourg March 14, 2019

On-Demand Digital Economy: Can Experience Ensure Work and Income Security for Microtask Workers?

  • Uma Rani EMAIL logo and Marianne Furrer


Digital labour platforms have been increasingly gaining popularity over the past decade. In particular, there has been much debate about workers’ motivations and working conditions on microtask platforms. There exists little evidence on whether dependence on digital microtask platforms provides workers with work and income security in the long term and whether it provides opportunities for skill development. This paper explores the extent to which the seemingly flexible platform work ensures work and income security and provides opportunities for skill development for workers with different levels of experience, based on novel survey data collected on five globally operating microtask platforms and in-depth interviews with workers. The findings show that despite high financial dependence on this work, returns to experience on the platform are meagre in terms of earnings, and highly experienced workers face the same risks as new entrants with regard to discrimination, high work intensity, lack of autonomy and control over work, and social protection. There is also a skills gap between the nature of tasks available on these microtask platforms and the workers’ education levels. Finally, experience does not ensure that workers have the opportunities to undertake complex and challenging tasks, and the possibilities to develop their skills and improve career prospects are limited.

JEL Classification: J24; J31; J32; J81


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The views expressed in the paper are those of the authors and do not represent those of the Organisation. This article is part of the special issue “Digitalisation and the Labor Market” published in the Journal of Economics and Statistics. Access to further articles of this special issue can be obtained at

Published Online: 2019-03-14
Published in Print: 2019-07-26

© 2019 Oldenbourg Wissenschaftsverlag GmbH, Published by De Gruyter Oldenbourg, Berlin/Boston

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