The sharing economy and on-demand services are weaving their way into the lives of (some) Americans, raising difficult issues around jobs, regulation and the potential emergence of a new digital divide. While other Americans seemingly watch from the side-lines, struggling with terminology and usage.
A number of new commercial online services have emerged in recent years, each promising to reshape some aspect of the way Americans go about their lives. Some of these services offer on-demand access to goods or services with the click of a mouse or swipe of a smartphone app. Others promote the commercialized sharing of products or expertise, while still others seek to connect communities of interest and solve problems using open, collaborative platforms.
These services have sparked a wide-ranging cultural and political debate on issues such as how they should be regulated, their impact on the changing nature of jobs and their overall influence on users’ day-to-day lives.
A national Pew Research Center survey of 4,787 American adults – its first-ever comprehensive study of the scope and impact of the shared, collaborative and on-demand economy – finds that usage of these platforms varies widely across the population. In total, 72% of American adults have used at least one of 11 different shared and on-demand services. And some incorporate a relatively wide variety of these services into their daily lives: Around one-in-five Americans have used four or more of these services, and 7% have used six or more.
At the same time, around one-quarter of Americans (28%) say they have not used any major shared or on-demand platforms, and many are wholly unfamiliar with the tools and vocabulary of the new digital economy. For instance, 15% of Americans have used ride-hailing apps like Uber or Lyft, but twice as many have never heard of these apps before. Similarly, 11% of Americans have used home-sharing platforms like Airbnb or VRBO, but roughly half have never heard of home-sharing sites. In addition:
- 61% of Americans have never heard of the term “crowdfunding.”
- 73% are not familiar with the term “sharing economy.”
- 89% are not familiar with the term “gig economy.”
Each of these individual platforms has its own unique user base. Still, exposure to these shared, collaborative and on-demand services at a broad level is heavily concentrated among certain demographic cohorts. In particular:
College graduates – 39% of college graduates have used four or more of these services, compared with just 8% of those with a high school degree or less. At the same time, around one-quarter of college graduates have used none (11%) or only one (15%) of these services.
Those with relatively high household incomes – 41% of Americans with an annual household income of $100,000 or more have used four or more of these services, three times the proportion among households earning less than $30,000 annually.
Those under the age of 45 – Exposure to these shared and on-demand services begins to drop off rapidly starting at around age 45. Around one-third of those ages 18-44 have used four or more of these services, and relatively few in this age range have no exposure at all to these services. By contrast, 44% of Americans ages 50 and older (and 56% of those ages 65 and older) have not used any of these 11 platforms.
A number of these services – though by no means all of them – are offered primarily in and around urban population centers. And urban and suburban residents are around twice as likely as those living in rural areas to use four or more of these services. At the same time, around one-quarter of urban and suburban dwellers have not used any of the platforms measured in this survey.
This report offers a detailed examination of three different services that exemplify the shared, collaborative and on-demand economy: ride-hailing apps, home-sharing platforms and crowdfunding services. Key findings about each of these three services are discussed in more detail below.
- Ride-hailing apps (used by 15% of American adults)
- Home-sharing platforms (used by 11% of adults)
- Crowdfunding sites (used by 22% of adults)
Read Article (Aaron Smith | pewinternet.org | 05/19/2016)
Isn’t this just great! Technology has already left nearly a billion people behind with the first digital divide and now here comes a new one. Now, how the hell are they supposed to catch-up?
Donate to our startup and we promise to do all we can to address the catching-up of those left behind. I can only campaign in my spare time and I’ve been yelling for attention as loud as I can, I’ve posted hundreds of articles to bring attention to the situation. But alas, a new digital divide now looms on the horizon and this campaign is still waiting for funds. Come on, we can do this.
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