The Gender Earnings Gap in the Gig Economy: Evidence from over a Million Rideshare Drivers

The growth of the “gig” economy generates worker flexibility that, some have speculated, will favor women. We explore this by examining labor supply choices and earnings among more than a million rideshare drivers on Uber in the United States. We document a roughly 7% gender earnings gap amongst drivers. We show that this gap can be entirely attributed to three factors: experience on the platform (learning-by-doing), preferences and constraints over where to work (driven largely by where drivers live and, to a lesser extent, safety), and preferences for driving speed. We do not find that men and women are differentially affected by a taste for specific hours, a return to within-week work intensity, or customer discrimination. Our results suggest that, in a “gig” economy setting with no gender discrimination and highly flexible labor markets, women’s relatively high opportunity cost of non-paid-work time and gender-based differences in preferences and constraints can sustain a gender pay gap.

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