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Most Mechanical Turkers Are Young, College-Educated and Making Less Than $5 an Hour

Moshe Z. Marvit reports the Pew Research Center has released a major study that fills in some of the gaps in understanding who the “Turkers” are.

The report, titled “Research in the Crowdsourcing Age,” reveals something surprising about these cogs in the digital machine: Most of them are young and college-educated. The majority of them are also making less than $5 an hour performing “short, repetitive microtasks that paid 10 cents or less and could be completed in a few minutes.”

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In order to track down Turkers, researchers surveyed thousands of Mechanical Turk workers during various times each day during a sample period. They offered Turkers various amounts, between 5 cents and $2, to ensure that they attracted people who would accept a wide variety of compensation.

Paul Hitlin, the study’s author, tells In These Times that he was surprised by the findings. “Because it is so low paying,” he says, “we hypothesized that the people doing it would have much less education.” The results seem to confirm that in the gig economy, the old rules—of education and experience leading to greater compensation—do not apply

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