The Promise Of The Sharing Economy?

“It’s not clear, however, that the people who stand to benefit the most from the sharing economy in an economic model will actually gain those benefits in the real world. There’s not a lot of evidence right now that lower-income consumers are using these platforms in large numbers.

In fact, there’s some evidence of the opposite. Bikeshare systems are a great example of a cheap alternative to transit that could save low-income workers a lot of money. But many cities have struggled to lure low-income riders. Part of the barrier is logistical; you have to have a credit card and a smartphone to access many of these platforms today.

But another piece may be cultural. A lot of survey data suggests that lower-income people are less trusting of their neighbors or society in general than the upper-income. And trust is a key prerequisite in any marketplace where people lend and borrow possessions with strangers.

It’s also worth asking this awkward question: Will upper-income consumers still be as eager to share (or rent) their homes, cars and possessions when these marketplaces expand to include more low-income users? Does this kind of sharing work today, in other words, because most people aren’t sharing across socioeconomic lines?” –


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