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

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

By Cody Cook, Rebecca Diamond, Jonathan Hall, John A. List, Paul Oyer
January 2018Working Paper No. 3637

The growth of the “gig” economy generates worker flexibility that, some have speculated, will favor women. We explore one facet of the gig economy by examining labor supply choices and earnings among more than a million rideshare drivers on Uber in the U.S. Perhaps most surprisingly, we find that there is a roughly 7% gender earnings gap amongst drivers. The uniqueness of our data—knowing exactly the production and compensation functions—permits us to completely unpack the underlying determinants of the gender earnings gap. We find that the entire gender gap is caused by three factors: experience on the platform (learning-by-doing), preferences over where/when to work, and preferences for driving speed. This suggests that, as the gig economy grows and brings more flexibility in employment, women’s relatively high opportunity cost of non-paid-work time and gender-based preference differences can perpetuate a gender earnings gap even in the absence of discrimination.