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The ‘Gig Economy’ and Independent Contracting: Evidence from California Tax Data

FACT SHEET: The ‘Gig Economy’ and Independent Contracting: Evidence from California Tax Data PDF
Summarizes the findings from the working paper and policy paper

JOURNAL PUBLICATION: Independent Contracting, Self-Employment, and Gig Work: Evidence from California Tax Data First published online on in ILR Review on Oct 28, 2022
Pre-publication version PDF

POLICY PAPER: Independent Contracting in California: An Analysis of Trends and Characteristics Using Tax Data PDF
Presents a broad set of findings about the characteristics of independent contracting in California for workers age 18-80

PRESS RELEASE: New Reports Shed Light on Role of Independent Contracting in California

Most labor market policy in the United States is designed for long-term employment relationships. Self-employed workers, including independent contractors and on-demand platform (“gig”) workers, are excluded from labor market protections such as wage and hour laws, occupational safety and health regulations, unemployment insurance, and employer-provided health insurance and retirement programs. They are also poorly covered by our tax collection system, which relies heavily on employer reporting of worker earnings for enforcement. Growth in independent contracting could undermine labor market arrangements, with implications for regulation, tax collection, and worker wellbeing.

This research uses California tax data to provide an alternative lens on many of the outstanding empirical questions about independent contracting. We use de-identified, individual-level data from California personal income tax returns for tax years 2012 through 2017 to measure the prevalence and nature of self-employment and independent contracting.

Suggested Citation

Bernhardt, A., Campos, C., Prohofsky, A., Ramesh, A., Rothstein, J., Thomason, S. (2022). The ‘Gig Economy’ and Independent Contracting: Evidence from California Tax Data. California Policy Lab.

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