A Life Course Perspective on Transitions into the Gig Economy: Evidence from the UK

Timothy Charlton-Czaplicki, Philipp Hukal

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperResearchpeer-review


Work relationships mediated by digital platforms promise flexible and low-barrier earnings across demographics, implying a central role of this new form of work in society. Information about how and why individuals take up such work is necessary to inform policy making, academic research, and workers’ career decisions. However, available metrics on the gig economy are insufficient to describe these long-term developments in workers' career paths. In this study we apply sequence analysis to the latest wave of a longitudinal survey of the UK population (UKHLS) to better understand the career paths of workers in the gig economy. Our findings include six distinct types of transition into the gig economy (steady employment; first-time labour market entrants; recently self-employed; steady self-employment; labour market re-entries; and retirees) as well as updated metrics about the number of workers engaging in platform facilitated work in the UK, which have been overestimated in the literature. We adopt a longitudinal life course perspective and draw on these insights to provide an initial outline of platform careers, a career path model characterised by flexibility and numerous transitions between occupational states that is not tethered to conventional organisations.
Original languageEnglish
Publication date2022
Number of pages25
Publication statusPublished - 2022
EventSASE 34th Annual Conference 2022: Fractious Connections: Anarchy, Activism, Coordination, and Control - University of Amsterdam, Amsterdam, Netherlands
Duration: 9 Jul 202211 Jul 2022
Conference number: 34


ConferenceSASE 34th Annual Conference 2022
LocationUniversity of Amsterdam


  • Gig economy
  • Digital platforms
  • Life course perspective
  • Sequence analysis

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