Wednesday, August 30, 2023
HomeMicrofinanceDvara Research Blog | The financial lives of platform workers: A diaries...

Dvara Research Blog | The financial lives of platform workers: A diaries study in Bengaluru, India


Rakshith S. Ponnathpur
Dvara Research
Risha Ramachandran
Dvara Research


Gig platforms have become ubiquitous in urban India in recent years. According to NITI Aayog, India currently has about 7.7 million gig (platform) workers, a number that it expects will reach 24 million by 2030. Even as gig economy blooms, there are growing protests by gig workers about their working conditions, low pay, and lack of basic social security, prompting academics from various disciplines to closely study the gig (platform) economy. However, one gap in this rapidly expanding field of literature is regarding their financial lives. Our study aims to fill this gap by documenting the nature of platform work and how it is shaping the (financial) lives of platform workers and their families. Through a mixed methods approach that included focus group discussions, personal interviews, baseline surveys, and financial diaries, we gather insights from about 35 platform workers working with more than eight platforms in Bangalore – and coming from different age groups, genders, domicile statuses, platform segments ­­– about their experience(s) working with platforms, their earnings, expenses, cashflows, savings, borrowings, pension, insurance, time-use, past work, future work, financial goals, etc. 

We find that as platforms have established themselves and grown to become monopsonies in the labour market, platform workers’ experience with platform work has worsened, earnings reduced, benefits discontinued, while more costs and risks have shifted on their shoulders. Workers find it challenging to sustain such costs and maintain their household finances and therefore resort to taking loans way more frequently than they set aside any savings. Platforms, by virtue of being monopsonist, also have the power to design the payment structure in a way that compels workers to stay available and seek work for long hours. This is done mainly through incentives that form a substantial part of earnings and are conditional on the intensity of workers’ engagement with platforms. But workers are not guaranteed to earn incentives despite putting in all the effort from their end, thus making their incomes volatile. An ever-expanding pool of platform workers and fluctuating customer demand force them to constantly stay hyper-vigilant and compete for jobs with fellow workers, adding further to their physical and mental stress and exacerbating their day-to-day income volatility. Many consider platform work as unsustainable in the long run and have set goals for their future outside the platform economy, with most of them preferring some or the other form of self-employment. But they find it difficult to work actively towards reaching those goals, given the day-to-day challenges of their work and money management. Despite the many challenges faced in and complaints about platform work, workers continue – and aspiring workers are flocking – to work in the platform economy for the time being because there is a lack of alternative employment avenues currently in the Indian labour market that can guarantee them comparable earnings for their level of education and skills.

For more detailed insights on the lives and finances of gig workers, read the executive summary and full report.

Cite this report


Ponnathpur, R., & Ramachandran, R. (2023). The financial lives of platform workers: A diaries study in Bengaluru, India. Retrieved from Dvara Research.


Ponnathpur, Rakshith and Risha Ramachandran. “The financial lives of platform workers: A diaries study in Bengaluru, India.” 2023. Dvara Research.


Ponnathpur, Rakshith, and Risha Ramachandran. 2023. “The financial lives of platform workers: A diaries study in Bengaluru, India.” Dvara Research.



Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

- Advertisment -
Google search engine

Most Popular

Recent Comments