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Briefing paper


Labour markets are undergoing major transformations as a result of globalisation, technological and demographic changes. The digital revolution, in particular, is promoting new forms of employment mediated by online platforms. The scale and scope of these changes are hard to assess because conventional labour market statistics and economic indicators are ill-suited to measure platform work.

This brief provides estimates of the importance of online work (one type of platform work that is carried out entirely online) in OECD countries using the Online Labour Index (OLI) - an indicator based on real-time data from five of the world's largest English- language online labour platforms.

Early signs show that online work has been growing rapidly but the sources of this demand and where it is carried out vary considerably across countries and regions. Most tasks are posted in OECD countries (particularly in the United States), but the majority of workers are based in non-OECD countries (with India being a particularly important player). Estimates adjusted by GDP and population size reveal that online work plays a relatively important role in small countries with prominent IT sectors (such as Estonia, Ireland and Latvia). Platforms appear to give clients in OECD countries access to a much wider pool of talent and they are more likely to seek certain skills abroad than others. 

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