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Digital labor: new opportunities and challenges

January 12, 2022

  Diego Aguilar, Aileen Agüero, Onkokame Mothobi, Tharaka Amarasinghe


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*The views expressed here do not necessarily represent those of IDRC or its Board of Governors. This work was carried out with the aid of a grant from the International Development Research Centre, Ottawa, Canada.


This study aims to gain a better understanding on the implications of digital labor for the Global South, particularly among marginalized groups in Africa, Asia, and Latin America. The study reveals country and regional characteristics of digital workers as well as the main barriers to participate in digital labor markets.

Adopting a gender perspective enabled a deeper investigation of factors that influence entry decisions into the digital labor market, the gender pay gap between male and female digital workers, and differences between females outside and inside the digital labor market. For this purpose, the document use nationally representative surveys from the After Access project, conducted in 2017/18 by three Global South think tanks: Research ICT Africa (RIA) in Africa, LIRNEasia in Asia and the Institute of Peruvian Studies (through the Regional Dialogue on Information Society-DIRSI) in Latin America.

The authors seek to find a causal effect between individual characteristics and the probability of participating in digital labor, broken down by digital labor categories. Two approaches are used to examine participation in the digital labor market and its effect on relevant labor market outcomes (income). In the first approach, they analyze the income differences between men and women within the digital labor market (gender pay gap in the gig economy). With the second approach they analyze the difference in income between women who participate in the digital economy and those who do not (the gig economy effect on women’s pay).

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