Exploring new facets of global online freelancing with the Online Labour Index 2020

Exploring new facets of global online freelancing with the Online Labour Index 2020

We launched the Online Labour Index (OLI) almost five years ago. Since then, it has become a point of reference for scholars and policy experts investigating the market for online gig work, also known as online freelancing and online outsourcing. Next week we’ll be launching the system’s biggest ever update, which introduces wider coverage, new interactive visualizations, and easy access to data. We’ll call this new version the OLI 2020. In this post, we’ll offer a preview of some of the new insights that OLI 2020 provides. Our recent paper on the OLI 2020 has a more detailed description.

Spanish and Russian language employers hire tech contractors

Most online labour transactions are carried out on English-language platforms. But there are also growing regional markets, driven by language barriers and employers’ desire to hire workers domestically. The two largest non-English language markets are Spanish and Russian, and OLI 2020 tracks a selection of platforms in these languages.

Figure 1: In addition to the original five online freelance platforms, the OLI 2020 tracks the demand of three major Spanish and Russian language platforms.

New OLI 2020 visualizations let you explore differences across the three language markets. For instance, Figure 1 shows that employers on Spanish and Russian language platforms hire a larger proportion of their workers from the software development and technology category than do employers on English language platforms.

One third of all online freelancers come from India

Since the beginning of global online freelancing, countries like India, Bangladesh, and Pakistan have been popular digital outsourcing locations because of their workforces’ strong English language and tech skills. The OLI 2020 reveals that over the past five years, the share of workers from the Indian subcontinent has only grown. India’s share of the global online worker population monitored by the OLI 2020 has grown from 25% in 2017 to 33% in 2021. For Bangladesh the corresponding numbers are 10% and 15%. This is illustrated in Figure 2, which is produced using OLI 2020’s new time series slider.

Figure 2: Between 2017 and 2021, the share of online labour supply from India has increased significantly. Now, one third of all freelancers are located in India, and more than half comes from India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh.

Author: Fabian Stephany

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