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Paul Oyer: Where, exactly, is the gig economy taking us?

In a search for answers, an economist embedded himself as an Uber driver.

A hand holding a smartphone with a ride-sharing app open

What better way is there to understand ride-share platforms, than to become a certified driver? | Reuters/Simon Dawson

The worlds of academic economics and ride sharing are not so far removed — just ask Stanford labor economist Paul Oyer.

When Oyer wanted to study the gig economy, he didn’t do it from afar; he became an Uber driver.

Oyer says lessons from the gig economy hold deep lessons for the job market for more traditional jobs. Uber’s surge pricing, for instance, is more than a payment structure — it entices Uber drivers to work odd hours or at times of peak demand. He says Uber is constantly reworking its payment structure to ensure that the company and its drivers’ interests are aligned to reduce workforce turnover.

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