Despite the many benefits and opportunities offered by the platform economy, its expansion also entails disruptions to the status quo, by creating new markets, displacing established businesses, while at the same time opening up new possibilities to both businesses and consumers.
The rapid growth of the platform economy also poses new regulatory challenges that policymakers are called to address - including taxation and employment status or treatment of those in platform work. The growth of the platform economy may require a more general approach to legislation and policies, from the reform of the organisation and financing of social welfare systems, to changes in other policy areas such as competition, copyright, and data protection.
This paper draws from a wide range of sources (surveys, journal articles, policy papers, media reports) in many different disciplines in consideration of the cross-cutting nature of the topic at hand. The focus is only on empirical studies providing estimates of the scale and size of the platform economy (in revenue terms, number of workers employed and active users in terms of clients and/or service provider, etc.) through surveys or other quantitative methods. Qualitative studies drawing solely from in-depth interviews, focus groups and similar methods are however out of the scope of this paper.
The paper is structured around four main chapters. It starts with the discussion on the variety of terms and definitions most commonly used to describe the platform economy, pointing to the definitional complexity and implications for the measurement of the platform economy. The second chapter reviews categorisations, classifications and taxonomies - as proposed in policy and academic papers - as these influence the measurements. The third chapter introduces the methodological approach used across the studies reviewed. This paper ends with some concluding remarks on the methods used across the identified studies. This concluding chapter is enriched by feedback provided by experts involved in research measuring the platform economy and key reflections on the measurement options available, the array of unresolved issues and the most promising methods on which to build on in future policy research.