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Christopher Koopman, research fellow at The Mercatus Center at George Mason University, demonstrates in his study “Evaluating the Growth of the 1099 Workforce” how the sharing economy is key to promoting economic inclusion.

Using employment data from the IRS for the past 20 years, Koopman shows the rise in independent contractors predates the creation of sharing economy giants Uber, Lyft and Airbnb by at least eight years. Rather than view the sharing economy as the cause of the rise in independent contracting, the data shows that the weakening of the labor market over the past few decades has created a supply of people looking for additional means of income. Uber, Lyft, Airbnb and other sharing platforms are providing flexible, alternative opportunities for people who need it the most:

“We should view the rise of the sharing economy as a natural consequence of more fundamental changes in the labor market, and should count that as one of the many ways that the sharing economy is creating value. As traditional labor market dynamism wanes, firms and workers have adopted more flexible, nontraditional work arrangements as a response. Insofar as sharing-economy firms provide innovative and efficient ways to implement and manage those nontraditional arrangements, they are promoting economic inclusion for workers who now find fewer opportunities in the traditional labor market.”

This study and the rest of Koopman’s invaluable research on the sharing economy can be found at http://mercatus.org/christopher-koopman