UPDATE: Iain Murray’s presentation can be seen here.

The rise of “sharing economy” platforms such as Uber, Lyft, and TaskRabbit has led to a new discussion over the nature of work and employment. Yet this debate echoes far earlier disputes about the legal status of workers and employers going back as far as the Middle Ages.

Iain Murray will review the history of the law surrounding employment in England and America and the principle of master and servant. He will discuss the once-prominent concept of the “right to earn a living” that was also significant in the writings of major abolitionists. He will then look at how this long-established principle was overturned in the U.S. during the Progressive Era and the revolutionary change in employment law that followed.

After explaining the role of transaction costs in the organization of firms and employment, he will then tie the various threads together in looking at what is actually happening in the sharing economy. To conclude, he will posit various scenarios for the future of work and leave the audience with various questions that policymakers must answer as they consider the future of employment in the United States.

More background on these issues can be found in CEI study Punching the Clock on a Smartphone App? The Changing Nature of Work in America and Regulatory Barriers to Success.


 Thursday, November 17, 2016
6:30 p.m. – 8:30 p.m. 


 St. John’s University

206 D’Angelo Center
8000 Utopia Parkway
Queens, NY 11439


Iain Murray 

Vice President for Strategy, Competitive Enterprise Institute

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