The Impact of COVID-19 Pandemic on Gig Economy Labor Supply

25 Pages Posted: 6 Aug 2020 Last revised: 10 Sep 2020

See all articles by Xinyu Cao

Xinyu Cao

New York University (NYU) - Leonard N. Stern School of Business

Dennis Zhang

Washington University in St. Louis - John M. Olin Business School

Lei Huang

Tsinghua University, School of Economics & Management

Date Written: August 4, 2020

Abstract

Using data from a large online education platform with more than 100,000 gig workers, we investigate the causal impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on gig economy labor supply and quantify how much of the impact can be attributed to lockdown policies. The average labor supply on the gig economy platform increases by 25% during the pandemic. The impact is nationwide and is stronger in states with more confirmed cases of COVID-19. The impact of state-level shelter-in-place or stay-at-home orders accounts for only 7%~16% of the overall impact of the pandemic, suggesting that simply lifting the lockdown policies without controlling the disease well is unlikely to get the economy back on track. We also evaluate how female and male workers respond differently. Although both female and male workers increase their labor supply, female workers' increase in labor supply is smaller than male workers', and consequently, the already existing gender gap in labor supply increases by 31%. The increase in gender gap is primarily driven by workers in their age of 30-50, implying that the increase in gender gap is likely to be caused by the school closures during the pandemic and the disproportionate allocation of housework and childcare responsibility across gender.

Keywords: COVID-19, Gig Economy, Labor Supply, Gender Inequality

Suggested Citation

Cao, Xinyu and Zhang, Dennis and Huang, Lei, The Impact of COVID-19 Pandemic on Gig Economy Labor Supply (August 4, 2020). NYU Stern School of Business, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3666725 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3666725

Xinyu Cao (Contact Author)

New York University (NYU) - Leonard N. Stern School of Business ( email )

44 West 4th Street
Suite 9-160
New York, NY NY 10012
United States

Dennis Zhang

Washington University in St. Louis - John M. Olin Business School ( email )

One Brookings Drive
Campus Box 1133
St. Louis, MO 63130-4899
United States

Lei Huang

Tsinghua University, School of Economics & Management ( email )

Beijing
China

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