Job security or flexibility?
Both the developed and developing worlds are seeing a rise in alternative working arrangements – from gig economy jobs and independent contractors to zero-hours contracts. How much of this is driven by the desire for flexibility? Swati Dhingra discusses a survey conducted in India which asked people how much they would be willing to pay for increasing increments in length of contract. The Indian National Rural Employment Guarantee Act, the biggest of social welfare programme in the world, guarantees rural households 100 days of paid work per a year. Urban workers are not eligible for the programme, despite India being home to 15,000 such workers, many of whom work informally. The survey finds that workers do value job security, and would be willing to pay 15% of their median wage for 100 days of guaranteed work. The emergence of new working arrangements does not seem to be driven by workers seeking greater flexibility. Instead, workers would like stability attached to greater flexibility.