Sharing Economy: A Citation Analysis

The sharing economy is on the rise all over the United States, especially in larger cities such as New York City. However, with growth brings the requirement of more regulations, which can hamper or even ban sharing companies from operating. Alexandra Jonas published an article to the Journal of Law and Policy, talking about the onset of Uber and Airbnb. In addition, professor Alan Krueger, labor economist also wrote an article analyzing the labor market for Uber’s drivers, claiming that Uber drivers are well-compensated. Both of these master documents have gone through extensive vetting and are from very accurate sources. Krueger was an economist for the Obama administration and Jonas’s article was published to a reputable journal.

Jonas’s compares Uber to the onset of taxicabs, claiming that Uber isn’t as safe of a service to use due to the lack of regulations. Jonas also talks about existing regulations, claiming that they’re incomplete, and don’t adequately protect all parties who use Uber.

Jonas talked the history of taxicabs, relating it back to Uber’s upbringing’s in New York City. Here, Jonas referred to Taxi!, by Graham Russell Gao Hodges. In this work, Hodges mainly cited from personal experience, being a former New York City cab driver. His work was further qualified when identified as a “Noteworthy Book in Industrial Relations and Labor Economics, “from Princeton University. Hodges took into account union newspapers, memoirs of drivers, and the cities dailies as well. As Jonas described her claim and cited Hodges, the history of taxicab drivers becomes hand-in-hand with Uber’s current situation in the sharing economy space. As prevalence of taxi companies grew, so did the need for regulation. Hodge mentioned how unethical cab companies can become — for example, people would deny giving rides to lower-class people, preferring to drive the wealthy because of the sheer concept of supply and demand. Jonas talks further about the regulations which have come upon for taxis in recent decades such as having the number of cabs limited, limiting the amount of hours a driver can drive, encouraging a flat rate, having both licensing and inspection fees, among others. She refers to the New York City Taxi and Limousine Commission, which stated that the laws are meant to respond to the, “the need for intelligent regulation to set the rules of competition, ensure safety, [and] provide transparency to market participants.” These regulations created a safeguard for both the public, as well as for the cab drivers. The issue with Uber is that no such regulations exist just yet, which essentially makes them open to extreme competition among drivers, lack of proper insurance, and the lack of safety, which is why New York City, in addition to other major cities, have issues with Uber.

Jonas mentioned that there’s already regulations set in place, though incomplete regulations. The California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) established a new category of motor vehicle carriers, calling them “Transportation Network Companies.” After reading through the law, it’s clear that the regulation doesn’t quite include the regulations that are imposed on taxicab services in order to protect both the public and drivers. In addition, since the pricing model of Uber is dynamic, rather than fixed; they’re breaking a general business law which states that pricing can’t go up because of “abnormal disruption of the market.” Colorado, however, has implemented stricter safeguards. Jonas mentioned how Colorado Revised Statute §40–10.1–602 essentially protects the public and drivers by requiring insurance, background checks, among other things. The issue with current regulations that’s being questioned here is the question of if the services are adequately insured and adequately protect all parties involved. Jonas makes reference to an article by KQED News, which mentions an incident where an UberX driver struck a mother and two children on a sidewalk, one of which who passed away. This brought up the question of insurance. It’s required of drivers to buy commercial insurance to be covered both when they’re driving for hire and when they’re not. It also brings to light the large issue of drivers keeping their status as Uber drivers private from insurance companies in fear of their rates increasing. The article makes reference to Barry Korengold, president of the cab drivers association, who said “It’s ridiculous to say that they’re only insured when they’re on a call. Taxi cabs have to be insured 100 percent of the time. They don’t just disappear when they’re not on a call. They’re still out there on the road…causing a danger to the public. After going down two levels of citations: Jonas’s references to regulations and critiques of those regulation made by relevant parties makes the argument of Uber’s lack of proper regulations quite clear.

Alan Krueger’s document, An Analysis of the Labor Market for Uber’s Driver-Partners in the United States does an analysis of Uber’s drivers based upon survey data and other anonymized administrative data. He claims that Uber drivers are well compensated, and their status as independent contractors is a good thing, not unsafe.

Krueger’s claim in his work was that Uber drivers well fairly well compensated, and are attracted to the company because of how easy it is to get started. Uber driver’s are much closer to age and education to the general workforce, Uber can serve as a bridge to other employment, and Uber is very flexible as far as hours and working go. This claim is challenged heavily by The Sharing Economy: Labor, Inequality, and Sociability on for-profit Platforms, released by Boston College, a reputable institution. Though Krueger as an economist under the Obama Administration, his claim is broken down in BC’s article. According to the article, Uber drivers make only around $13.00 an hour, after expenses related to their vehicle, a large cut from the $18.31 an hour Krueger was suggesting. BC found this number through conducting a survey of drivers, collecting the following metrics: Hours worked, net income per hour, Minimum expenses, and the new net income per hour after expenses. In addition, the paper goes one step further and talks about how independent contractors “lack benefits and the rights and protections guaranteed to standard employees,” again challenging Krueger’s claim that “independent contractors have preferred their working arrangements to traditional employment relationships, and this tendency appears to be continuing in the sharing economy.” After going through two levels of citations, there’s a contradiction between BC’s article and Krueger’s claims, both reputable sources. However, BC’s claims take it one step further to further deny Krueger’s various claims, making it more uncertain.

Overall, after going through both master documents and analyzing the various sources they draw upon (mentioned below in the bibliography), I’m more assured that Uber does indeed require more regulations to be held 100% accountable for all parties involved with the service.

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