The data presented in Kevin Roose’s The Sharing Economy Isn’t About Trust, It’s About Desperation doesn’t prove a cause-and-effect relationship between a deteriorating job situation and the rise of “sharing economy” services like Uber, Lyft, and Airbnb. Correlation isn’t the same as causation.
Based on the data presented by Roose you can state the hypothesis that the sharing economy is being driven by depressed jobs and wages. You might also have to entertain some alternate hypotheses:
Even when times are good people like cheap stuff.
Everybody loves a bargain especially when bargain-hunting smart phone apps are so easy to use.
Why spend $500 per night in a Manhattan hotel if you can locate an apartment for $100?
Another take: “black markets” have always thrived. Our “big data” economy just makes it easier to bring them closer to the light.
You could also say that the rise of shared services means that high-end retail services, overprotected by government regulation, have always been overpriced anyway.
So, as Roose suggests, is “desperation” really the root cause here? As attractive as that hypothesis is I would like to see some actual data.
More likely than not desperation is one of many factors driving the rise of sharing services and the really important question is, how permanent they will be for the economy? My sense is, pretty permanent.
Copyright © 2014 by Dennis D. McDonald, Ph.D. Dennis is an independent project management consultant based in Alexandria, Virginia. He has worked throughout the U.S. and in Europe, Egypt, and China. His clients for project planning and project management have included the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, the Environmental Protection Agency, the World Bank, AIG, ASHP, and the National Library of Medicine. In addition to consulting company ownership and management his experience includes database publishing and data transformation, integration of large systems, corporate technology strategy, social media adoption, statistical research, and IT cost analysis. His web site is located at www.ddmcd.com and his email address is firstname.lastname@example.org. On Twitter he is @ddmcd.