Paid Crowdsourcing as a Vehicle for Global Development

By connecting remote workers to a global marketplace, paid crowdsourcing has the potential to improve earnings and livelihoods in poor communities around the world. However, there is a long way to go before realizing this potential. To date, most workers on microtasking platforms come from relatively well-off backgrounds, and there has been limited impact on low-income individuals.

In this position paper, we outline a research agenda to extend the benefits of informal, paid microtasking to low-income workers in developing countries. This goal will require research along multiple fronts, spanning the crowdsourcing platforms themselves, their impact upon users’ livelihoods, and their scalability to large populations. While there are many challenges to overcome, the rewards are great. We believe that a new focus on low-income workers is critically important to unlock the potential scale and impact of paid crowdsourcing platforms.