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On the effects of Covid-19 on online labour markets: empirical evidence from Europe

In online labour market platforms, projects can be posted and completed anywhere in the world. They are – intensified by Covid-19 – at the core of the debate about the future of work and the conditions under which we work online. Using unique company data from a large European online labour market, we explore the impact of Covid-19 on freelancers, clients and the platform. Our unique data allows us to track the complete hiring process on the platform from 1 January 2013 to 11 June 2020. We observe the city and country where the clients and freelancers are located. We also have detailed information on a large set of characteristics of more than 370,000 clients, 116,000 projects and 189,000 freelancers. Our dataset allows us to study the change in workers’ preferences about job location. In this platform, projects can be completed remotely or on site. We explore the effect of the lock-down associated with Covid-19 on the daily share of projects completed remotely over total projects completed in the platform. We consider 14 March 2020 as the starting date of the lock-down, i.e. the earliest date for the countries included in the sample. Preliminary results suggest that, the share of remote projects increased from 71.9% two months before confinement to 74.6% two months after confinement. We will expand the current analysis to further disentangle geographic, industry and demographic specific effects. Finally, we complement the analysis with recently collected data from a freelancer survey of the platform under study. The survey includes a set of general questions about freelancers’ motivations, online and offline activity, working patterns, skills, etc. It also includes a specific set of questions related to the Covid-19 crisis and its impact on their activity.

Lead investigator:

Frank Mueller-Langer


University of the Bundeswehr Munich; Max Planck Institute for Innovation and Competition

Primary topic:

Jobs, work, pay & benefits

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Type of data being collected:

From private company

Unit of real-time data collection


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