Author ORCID Identifier
Date of Award
Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
Public Management and Policy
Cathy Yang Liu
The platform economy provides employment opportunities for many workers, offering benefits such as low entry and exit costs, and flexibility. However, it also represents a contemporary manifestation of nonstandard work, characterized by insecurity and inadequate labor protections. As platforms expand and become more often a full-time job to many, the contradictions between their benefits and precariousness intensify.
Research has clarified the causes and implications of platform work, especially in the context of high-income countries. However, platform work is a global phenomenon, and its impacts are bound to differ across nations. Furthermore, as ridesharing became the poster child of the platform economy, it has received disproportional attention relative to other segments. Still, it is known that rules, outcomes, and experiences vary significantly across platforms.
This dissertation comprises an overview introduction and three independent essays focusing on the platform economy. The first and second essays focus on the impacts of ridesharing on occupational demographics and job quality, taking advantage of the staggered entry of Uber in Brazil as a natural experiment. The first uncover general trends and compares drivers with workers in other arrangements, including formal and informal, while the second zooms in on women in distinct family configurations to investigate whether ridesharing – in providing a flexible job opportunity – has affected women differently. Findings reveal a surge in the number of people driving as their primary job with a marked decline in earnings and job security trends. Furthermore, the presence of children in the household and urban violence rates affect women’s decisions to become drivers differently than men.
The third essay comprises an online experiment and a survey on a freelance platform to investigate United States-based worker preferences, contrasting individuals who rely on the platform as primary and supplemental income sources. Preliminary findings from a pilot study reveal that platform earnings play a significant role in covering essential family expenses, and there is a positive correlation between preference for flexibility and platform reliance. Workers prominently highlight flexibility and business-related benefits as the platform’s primary advantages, while identifying elements of precariousness and high fees as major drawbacks.
Nazareno Aguiar, Luisa, "Essays of Platform Work and Changing Workplaces." Dissertation, Georgia State University, 2023.