Over the past ten years, the platform economy has become a topic of great interest in Europe. It has been cited as a force for economic growth and innovation, lower-cost goods and services, and low-barrier employment opportunities. At the same time, platforms have been criticised for potentially expanding the number of workers in precarious jobs. Thus, stakeholders – including policymakers, social partners, workers and platforms – have sought to better understand the platform economy, as evidenced by the growing body of literature surrounding platform issues.
The estimation of the number of active workers includes employees of the platform and the service providers performing tasks via the platforms.The number of service providers is sometimes reported in our database, while the number of employees is known for all platforms. However, the number of employees is provided in scales, for example 1-10 or 11-50. Summing up all the lower values and upper values, the platforms should have between 11 000 and 45 480 employees. Taking the most conservative estimate as a starting point, the number of employees working for platforms (not as service providers) in Europe is likely to be around 11 000.
Turning to the service providers, the estimation approach is highly similar to the approach used for gross revenues. As in the previous estimation, the estimators of the trend lines are used to determine the number of service providers of the platforms for which the information is available in each cluster. The data on number of service providers and unique visitors was available for roughly a third of the platforms in each of the clusters. For each cluster, the trend lines are estimated for platforms for which the number of service providers and unique visitors are known (see Figure 2). The explanatory power of these trend lines is similar to that of the gross revenues (R² ranging between 0.32 and 0.51). The estimates are added to the number of service providers indicated in our dataset to obtain the total for each respective cluster (see Table 3).
Overall, the surveyed platforms had 12.8 million active workers in the EU for 2016, which is equivalent to 5.9% of the total employment (ages 15-64). This is similar to the Eurobarometer, which estimated the number of people who regularly provide services in the collaborative economy at roughly five per cent of the EU population. Still, as the Eurobarometer considered a much wider variety of platforms than the present study (e.g. accommodation, finance and e-commerce websites) and looked at whether people have ever worked via platforms, the present study’s estimation would actually be considerably larger.
Compared to De Groen and Maselli, which estimated that 100 000 service providers worked in the EU in 2015, this result is much higher. Part of the difference is likely due to the self-reporting on service providers, for which platforms have an incentive to inflate the actual numbers. Indeed, some numbers are highly suspicious. For example, one platform reported nearly 3 million service providers, which is incredible given that the site had fewer than 1 million unique visitors for the surveyed month. This platform alone accounted for some 40% of the service providers in cluster 3. Another consideration is that some active workers may be counted multiple times. Some overlap is inevitable since it is likely that providers offer services on multiple platforms.
Chosen excerpts by Job Market Monitor. Read the whole story @ The Impact of the Platform Economy on Job Creation – Intereconomics
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