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Online Gig Work’s Impact on Developing Economies

The article The Promise and Peril of Online Gig Work in Developing Countries by The World Bank, explores the dynamic landscape of online gig work in developing countries, highlighting its opportunities and challenges. The online gig economy, driven by digital platforms connecting workers to clients, now constitutes a significant portion of the global labor market, offering employment prospects to youth, women, and remote communities previously underserved by traditional job markets.

Online gig work provides vital income during economic instability and fosters digital skills development among younger workers. It also offers flexible earning opportunities and serves as a cost-effective talent source for small businesses and startups.

Developing countries are experiencing a rapid increase in gig workers, outpacing industrialized nations. A World Bank report reveals that up to 435 million people worldwide engage in online gig work, often alongside traditional jobs.

However, the digital divide persists, with three billion people lacking internet access, primarily in developing nations. To address this gap, the World Bank collaborates with governments and the private sector, promoting policy reforms, financing, and subsidy schemes to improve digital infrastructure, affordability, and digital literacy.

Social protection for gig workers is crucial, given the instability of gig work. Many lack access to such protections, especially in low-income countries. Governments are urged to innovate ways to include informal workers, including gig workers, in social protection schemes using digital technology.

In addition, there is a need to design more modern forms of collective bargaining for workers outside formal employment like gig workers. Crowd ratings of employers and platforms or using social media to bring together dispersed worker communities – are examples of using technology to create new models and solutions. 

Even though more women are engaged in the online gig economy than in the general labor market mainly due to the flexibility it offers, the gender wage gap persists.

In conclusion, by expanding digital connectivity, fostering digital skills, and extending social protection programs, more individuals can thrive in the evolving world of online gig work, potentially alleviating poverty and connecting workers to global job opportunities.


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Andrijana Serafimovska

Andrijana Serafimovska is the Communications Assistant at Impact Foundation. An ambitious and self-driven individual, with a passion for volunteering to better the quality of life of disadvantaged groups. She is experienced in project management for NGOs and social media marketing.