Renting a holiday house with Airbnb, sharing a ride with BlaBlaCar or Uber, dining in a restaurant booked with Gnammo after having entrusted your pet to a dog walker found on PetMe... Welcome to the world of the sharing economy. Thanks to a myriad of apps that have allowed many people to become “entrepreneurs” by providing others, often for a fee, their possessions or their time. Some see the sharing economy as a solution to the economic crisis, an opportunity to offset global competition’s negative impact on income and ensure lower prices than those otherwise set by the market. But the sharing economy also means defenceless workers and – through tax avoidance and lack of protection – unfair competition against traditional operators. The Internet encourages the global exchange of information and, potentially, services… but what are the consequences for the way we live and work?
Mario A. Maggioni teaches Economic Policy at the Catholic University of the Sacred Heart in Milan.