Learning and Earning in This New Economy

A Study of Rideshare Drivers in Los Angeles

by Benjamin Smith

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This study, and the resulting analysis that comprise this work, was an attempt to understand how gig workers, particularly Uber and Lyft drivers, find and perceive their employment, the money they make from it, and the things they spend it on.

This work is organized into chapters that follow drivers as they find or evaluate jobs, drive to meet their earning goals, pay their rent and bills, manage their relationships with others, and attempt to overcome physical pain, waning motivation, and their own shifting and sometimes nebulous goals.

Table of Contents

  • Chapter One

    Introduction

  • Chapter Two

    Finding Jobs, Keeping Jobs

  • Chapter Three

    Driving

  • Chapter Four

    Making Rent and Paying Bills

  • Chapter Five

    Dealing with Others

  • Chapter Six

    Dealing with Myself

  • Chapter Seven

    Conclusion

  • Appendix A

    Methodological Notes

Research conducted by

This document was submitted as a dissertation in December 2021 in partial fulfillment of the requirements of the doctoral degree in public policy analysis at the Pardee RAND Graduate School. The faculty committee that supervised and approved the dissertation consisted of Katharine Sieck (Chair), Gery Ryan, and Katharine Carman.

Partial funding for this dissertation was provided by the Anne and James Rothenberg Scholarship and the Doris Dong Scholarship.

This report is part of the RAND Corporation Dissertation series. Pardee RAND dissertations are produced by graduate fellows of the Pardee RAND Graduate School, the world's leading producer of Ph.D.'s in policy analysis. The dissertations are supervised, reviewed, and approved by a Pardee RAND faculty committee overseeing each dissertation.

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