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About living one year in the sharing economy…

Day 32: I'm not only in it for the money

This morning started out great! The magazine Lag & Avtal, focusing on labour market issues, did an interview with me. "What kind of jobs will you do during the year? Dog sitting? Animals are always fun in photos", said the journalist. So we took some photos with the adorable little poodle Louie in a park in Stockholm.

Then I participated in a round table discussion about policies for the sharing economy. Like how these services could be taxed in a way that's not too complicated for the user. That's an important question. But even though I've chosen to dedicate my whole year to the sharing economy, I'm not sure that the relevant distinction for policies is between the sharing economy and the rest. Simply because the sharing economy is too diverse to fit into one kind of regulation. It's hard to see what someone renting out a drill once has in common with someone driving Uber on a more regular basis, from a taxing perspective. And because there are many services in the "non-sharing" economy that faces the same challenges. Is there really a big difference between doing work through a sharing economy platform and doing it as an ordinary freelancer?

One thing many of the participants stressed is that people do this because of self-interest - they want to earn money. I think this is true in many cases, but then again the sharing economy is too diverse for us to give only one reason why people do this. Some services are even provided for free. And I think in many cases you do it both for the money and for other reasons. As in the old school economy as well - you wouldn't open a café if you didn't earn any money, but if you're only in it for the money you probably wouldn't do it either. The way I see it there is no contradiction between doing it for the money and because you like to meet people or want to make the world a better place or any other reason. The head of Uber Sweden, Alok Alström, for example said that he had met a Romanian Uber driver in Sweden who thought it was a good way of learning Swedish. So why not earn some money at the same time?

When I got home I found a great illustration of this. On my dining table was the sweetest note ever from the Korean woman who stayed here with her family for four days. Of course getting some money is great - and they payed less than in a youth hostel to stay here. But making a family from far away "feel like at home" when they have just arrived in Sweden feels amazing! And I loved having them here! Combining the two is in a nutshell what I think is great about the sharing economy.