Five things we need to know about the on-demand economy

Friday, 8 January 2016
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The last few years have witnessed the exponential growth of platforms like Uber and Airbnb and the creation of countless other less well-known examples. The expansion of the on-demand economy puts huge pressure on regulators to adapt it to the existing frameworks for labour and taxation. The rapid growth of the sector also divides experts: it is seen by many as threat for working conditions, and by others as an incredible opportunity.

The purpose of this essay is to take a balanced perspective on what we know about the on-demand economy and what needs further investigation. More research is needed on the individual cases before one can draw conclusions on how this new sector works. The political economy of the sector is made even more interesting by the fact that the technology is developing faster than the regulation. Yet, our plea to policy-makers is to refrain from legislating too early and to take the time to understand how the supply and the demand of these services behave and their equilibrium.

This CEPS Essay presents groundbreaking work on the on-demand economy, drawing on the most salient findings debated during the CEPS Winter School “From Uber to Amazon Mechanical Turk: Non-traditional labour markets driven by technological and organisational change”, 23-25 November 2015, financed by the InGRID FP7 project. For more information and to download the presentations, please visit:

Ilaria Maselli is a Research Fellow, Karolien Lenaerts is a Researcher and Miroslav Beblavý is Associate Senior Research Fellow at CEPS.