Uber increases taxi drivers’ wages, new Oxford study finds

A new study by economic researchers at the University of Oxford has found that Uber on average increased employment for taxi drivers on wages and for those who were self-employed.

The study was done through an analysis of labour data in the markets into which Uber had entered. Although it found that employment did not decrease, the arguments of critics of the app were confirmed in the report. Uber, it was found, drove down the earnings of traditionally-employed taxi drivers by as much as 10%.

The researchers claimed that the decline was offset across the whole market by the increased earnings of Uber drivers themselves, driven by the Uber app’s feature of matching drivers with customers.

As a result of “little evidence of adverse impacts,” the researchers suggested that efforts to restrict Uber on the grounds of supporting workers were unwise.

Other studies, however, have had differing results. In Los Angeles it was recently reported that Uber drove down taxi volumes by 30%, far more than the 10% as stated in the study from Oxford.

Uber drivers have been protesting about their rate of pay and Uber has been fined for exaggerating drivers’ earning potential. A U.K. government report, which used interviews from Uber drivers, claimed that drivers were being overworked.

Researchers have previously pointed to the difficulty in analysing the effects of Uber on the Taxi market because of the muddle of wage-earners and independent contractors.

Some have pointed to the plummeting price of U.S. taxi medallions, the right to operate a yellow cab in New York, as evidence for the damage caused to regular taxi-drivers by the rise of apps such as Uber. In 2014 a medallion was listed for around $1.3 million, but in October 2016 that had fallen to $250,000.

This study will add fuel to the ferocious debate between Uber and its critics.