Last week we pointed out that: "Almost every study done on the gig economy has found most gig workers choose to be gig workers, are satisfied being gig workers and plan to continue with gig work."
Unfortunately, this isn't true.
Most gig economy studies, including ours, tend to overstate gig worker satisfaction levels. The reason is almost all gig economy studies only include current gig workers.
This means people who were gig workers, but no longer are gig workers, aren't included.
So anyone who failed at gig work, or simply didn't like it and quit, aren't included. These folks, of course, likely wouldn't report being satisfied with gig work.
Wikipedia defines survivor bias as:
... the logical error of concentrating on the people or things that "survived" some process and inadvertently overlooking those that did not because of their lack of visibility.
The are several reasons most gig economy studies exclude those no longer working in the gig economy.
The main reason is most gig economy studies are designed to look at what's going on with existing gig workers. For example, the research objective of our ongoing on-demand economy study with Intuit is to better understand the attitudes and motivations of those working as gig workers for online talent marketplaces.
Given this focus, it doesn't make sense to include those not working in the gig economy - even if they once did.
Another reason is studies of former gig workers are expensive to do because of the effort it takes to find and survey former gig workers. So they don't get done as much.
Don't get us wrong. We're not saying it's not important to study former gig workers. It is important. We've done several studies on former gig workers and we're currently doing one.
Based on this work, we don't think the effects of survivor bias are large enough to fundamentally change our gig worker study results. But adding former gig workers to the studies would reduce the percent reporting they're satisfied.
So if you're considering becoming a freelancer, keep survivor bias in mind when you read about studies and talk to existing freelancers.
Also, make sure to talk to former freelancers - folks that failed and/or didn't like it. They will provide useful information and likely different perspectives than current freelancers.