Social Insurance for Gig Workers: Insights from a Discrete Choice Experiment in Malaysia

The rise of “gig” or digital platform work globally has led to both enthusiasm for its potential to create lucrative employment for large numbers of people, as well as concern about its implications for worker protection that is often provided in more standard employment. While gig work platforms may not be akin to employers in standard work relationships, arrangements that do not obligate them to provide worker protection and social insurance contributions may leave several platform workers unprotected against a range of risks. Is the observed lack of protection among digital platform workers explained by an unwillingness on part of the workers themselves to make necessary contributions for social insurance coverage? This paper analyzes this question in the context of Malaysia, a rapidly growing upper-middle-income East Asian economy that has witnessed a rise in gig work in recent years. The paper deploys a novel vignette-based experiment to ascertain gig workers’ willingness to pay for social insurance coverage.