Project Untangled

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Project Untangled




    In the research paper “The digital service economy as a source of intraregional wage inequalities” Roberta Capello, Camilla Lenzi and Elisa Panzera analyse how three models of the digital service economy – the product-service economy, sharing economy and online service model – affect wage disparities within European regions.



    Each of these models has specific characteristics. The product-service economy entails a strategy wherebymanufacturers offer their customers not only products but also various services, such as training or consultancy. Meanwhile, the sharing economy is based on the creation of new online markets for underutilised assets (e.g. a spare seat in a car, a spare bedroom, spare time) which are made temporarily accessible to other users upon payment based on a peer-to-peer exchange (BlaBlaCar, TaskRabbit, Airbnb). Finally, the online service economy involves digital platforms providing services, products or content (e.g. mobility solutions, food delivery services, payment) without owning the necessary assets. This value creation model rests on the dematerialisation of assets or products, enabled by the unbundling of products from the service a product can provide (Deliveroo, Uber).


    “Popular fears that the diffusion of the new technologies will increase inequalities are not fully misplaced. However, regions are not similarly exposed to these risks, and only some of them are experiencing a widening of wage inequality conditions,” says Roberta Capello, professor at the Politecnico Di Milano.


    She and her co-authors analysed data on innovations and wages from 164 regions between 2009 and 2016 and found that a noticeable widening of wage inequalities took place in regions where digital service economy models were fully developed and co-occurred. When only one model prevailed, its impact on wage disparities was limited.


    “Our findings suggest that in regions with a fully developed digital service economy pattern, or in those where sharing economy is dominant, policymakers should focus on interventions,” says Camilla Lenzi.


    Capello, R., Lenzi, C., & Panzera, E. (2023). “The digital service economy as a source of intraregional wage inequalities” (Deliverable 4.7). Leuven: UNTANGLED project 1001004776 – H2020.


    The paper is available here.



    The February 14 meet-up organised by ZSI hosted five presentations. To find out more, please visit our events section.

    The next Café will take place on May 4,  at 2:00-3:30 pm CET.




    “Gender gaps in skills, tasks, and employment outcomes”, written by Laetitia Hauret (LISER), Ludivine Martin (LISER), Piotr Lewandowski (IBS), Marta Palczyńska (IBS) and Nela Šalamon (ZSI) as part of the EU-funded research project, looks into how gender differences in job tasks impact wage and skill mismatches.


    The first part of the report analyses survey data from 37 countries. Figures from the OECD Survey of Adult Skills (PIAAC) and the World Bank’s STEP Skills Measurement Program indicate that women earn 18.2% less than men, after accounting for differences in age, education level and skills. This is partly because women perform more routine tasks: more of them work in routine-intensive occupations, and in all occupations they do more repetitive tasks than men. Additionally, the difference in wages between routine and non-routine professions is wider for women than for men.


    “Respondents described their tasks at work, and based on their judgment we classify occupations as routine-intensive,” says Marta Palczyńska. “Those jobs are paid less, and a majority of the people who do them are women. This is one reason women’s average earnings are lower than men’s.”


    Even when employed in jobs that involve more complex tasks, such as creative problem solving and decision-making, women still tend to do more routine tasks than men. However, in this case the associated pay penalties are, on average, similar to those experienced by men.


    The report also finds that in countries with tighter laws on gender equality and more egalitarian social norms, the influence of tasks performed on the gender wage gap tends to be smaller. In countries with laws supporting equality in parenting, the segmentation of men and women into more and less routine-intensive occupations might be less pronounced.


    “When household and child care duties are equally shared with men, women can take up more responsibilities at work, and instead of performing only simple tasks can move to more analytical ones, which has positive effects on their salaries,” Piotr Lewandowski said.


    In addition to social norms and labour laws, policies that promote re-skilling and up-skilling are equally important in reducing the earnings inequality that results from the difference in the type of tasks performed. With the acceleration of digitalisation, many workers are in positions where their skills do not match the requirements of their jobs. In the European Union, 45% of workers feel they do not have the right skills.


    Perception of under-skilling on the rise

    The second part of the report, focusing on skill mismatch, analyses survey data from 23 European countries. It finds that between 2005 and 2015, self-perception of being under-skilled increased. The change was particularly pronounced for men in Nordic countries, where in 2005 10% of men described themselves as under-skilled, while in 2015 15% described themselves this way. For women, the change was particularly pronounced in Western countries (14% in 2005 versus 18% in 2018). Women performing non-routine interpersonal tasks are particularly likely to believe they lack skills.


    “The expansion of non-routine cognitive tasks, both analytical and interpersonal, induced by digitalisation can partially explain these changes,” Ludivine Martin says.


    “Many women switched from routine-intensive jobs to analytical and interpersonal positions,” Laetitia Hauret adds. “That sudden change caused a rise in the number of workers who perceived themselves as underskilled.”


    Hauret, L., Martin, L., Lewandowski, P., Palczyńska, M., Šalamon, N. (2023). Gender gaps in skills, tasks, and employment outcomes (Deliverable 5.3). Leuven: UNTANGLED project 1001004776 – H2020.


    The paper is avaliable here.




    The workshop “Old and new inequalities in disruptive times” was organised by UNTANGLED researchers Roberta Capello, Camilla Lenzi, and Elisa Panzera from Politecnico di Milano, with the aim of bringing together the newest research from projects: PILLARS, ESSPIN, TWIN SEEDS, and UNTANGLED. 


    The event brought together around 40 participants for lively discussions.

    To find out more click here.

    2021 © UNTANGLED. All rights reserved.
    This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 101004776

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