By Olivia van Nieuwenhuizen, Policy Research Data Scientist
We often hear about Uber’s impact in the US, but what’s going on across the pond?
According to a recent study  released by The Boston Consulting Group (BCG), transportation platforms like Uber have grown exponentially in France over the last four years, resulting in an impressive economic impact — creating significant numbers of new economic opportunities and strengthening the national economy overall.
The study shows that in the first half of 2016, a full quarter of new employment opportunities in the Paris area alone came from transportation platforms like Uber. In fact, 6 percent of GDP growth in the Paris area came from transportation network companies (TNCs), as did about 2 percent of nationwide GDP growth.
As, Thibaud Simphal, Regional General Manager Western Europe at Uber, said, “It is exciting to be among the leaders of an industry that is creating more work opportunities for people in France today than any other sector of the economy.”
The study shows that in the long term, without even reaching the same number of drivers per capita as New York or London, the TNC sector in France could create 80,000 additional professional driver positions. Of the 22,000 drivers in the sector today, the findings reveal that almost 40 percent were previously unemployed, and 3,000 were unemployed for more than a year. And according to surveys conducted by the Benenson Strategy Group, 87 percent of Uber’s drivers prefer the flexibility and control of being their own boss compared to being told where and when to work and for how long.
It’s easy to find personal stories about the new economic opportunity that Uber represents for individuals across France. Maryline Baumard, a journalist writing for Le Monde, described some of the Uber partners she met at an event in Bagnolet — a city outside of Paris where the unemployment rate is among the highest in the region — a few months ago.
Abdel Salam Belgaasi, one of the Uber partners Baumard spoke with, had been driving with Uber for 8 months. He said he decided to “restart his life and embrace new opportunities.” He had lived in France for four years, but until signing up with Uber lived in a shelter because other “small jobs” didn’t pay enough for him to get his own place.
Youssef Sebiane, another Uber partner in Bagnolet, has a degree in engineering but struggled to find appropriate work. Today, Youssef runs his own fleet of Uber partners, with four other drivers working for him.
Towns like Bagnolet stand to benefit immensely from the economic opportunity Uber creates. As the deputy mayor of Bagnolet explained, “27 percent of our young people are unemployed, and that number jumps to 35 percent in underprivileged urban areas…We are pragmatic and grateful that this sector offers a chance to young people who, in some cases, had lost hope”.
The BCG study also found that TNCs support wider French economic growth. Some of these domino effects are intuitive: closely related industries like car rentals and insurance may have benefited by up to 250 million euros in 2016.
Graphic from BCG representing the local economic ecosystem that benefits from Uber’s presence.
The graphic shows that out of a total fare, 80% stays local as driver earnings. 25% of resulting economic activity is recycled into other industries related to transportation, and the rest goes to other sectors.
But another beneficiary might surprise you: Improved mobility likely brings substantial gains to other, non-related businesses, as riders find it easier to get to bars, restaurants, and small businesses, wherever they may be. And the tourism industry benefits as well. If you recently visited Paris, it’s possible that you relied on Uber to get around: the study found that in May of 2016 alone, nearly 100,000 tourists moved around the Paris area using Uber.
And of course, these benefits can only be realized if French riders like and value the service. Luckily, they do — despite having access to one of the best public transportation systems in the world, the study also found that 97 percent of riders were satisfied (or very satisfied) with their last Uber ride.
We’re proud of the economic impact that Uber has had for riders, drivers and businesses in France in just the first few years. For more, check out BCG’s media center here.
- The study is based on statistics from the French national statistics bureau (INSEE), data recovered from Uber, a BCG poll on a sample of 786 TNC users across France from October 2016, a quantitative survey of over 300 professional drivers from October 2016, and publicly available documents and reports.