Summary of Barriers to Growth in the "Sharing Economy"

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Popular online peer-to-peer platforms like Airbnb and Etsy allow users to generate income from their personal assets, skills and creativity. However, earning a wage using such platforms comes with its own problems. MIT researcher Denise Cheng provides an overview of the “peer economy” and discusses the advantages and barriers it poses. She suggests changes that the government and the platforms could implement to create a conducive business environment. getAbstract recommends her conclusions to policymakers, platform owners and independent contractors.

In this summary, you will learn

  • What the “peer economy” looks like;
  • Which financial, regulatory and expertise barriers could make peer-economy platforms less enticing for service and asset providers; and
  • Which platform, legal and regulatory changes could prevent current and potential providers from losing faith in the peer economy.

About the Author

Denise Cheng, an MIT researcher, has a background in community building, the future of news, and the workforce in the peer economy – specifically, support around the growing pool of workers who depend on piecemeal income.



In the “peer economy,” digital-platform owners arrange information exchange and transactions between providers and buyers, all for a transaction fee. For providers, the peer economy is a source of alternative income. It gives them the flexibility to choose their preferred work location and hours.

Although the peer economy has many benefits to offer, some regulatory barriers deter provider participation and the growth of platforms. Employers protect full-time employees from workplace accidents and discrimination. Peer-to-peer providers, however...

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