MUMBAI : The gig economy is on the rise in India and many young Indians are welcoming it. Across cities, a vast majority of India’s working millennials are willing to give up their full-time jobs to take up freelance work, according to survey data collected by market researcher YouGov in collaboration with Mint.

Data from the second round of the YouGov-Mint Millennial Survey conducted in January and February earlier this year shows that more than 80% of working adults believe that freelance work is a viable alternative to full-time employment and they would consider taking up freelance work in the future.

Among the 5,038 online respondents from 180 cities in the YouGov-Mint survey, 2,709 were millennials (defined as those born between 1981 and 1996), 1,188 were from the Gen-Z (born after 1996) and the rest 1,141 belonged to the older Gen-X (born before 1981). Given the rise of the millennial population in India, understanding their views are important for both businesses and government. And given India’s ongoing job challenge, their views on the type of jobs they desire is particularly pertinent.


The desire for freelance work cuts across workers in different sectors.

However, youth employed in the arts and entertainment industry, the financial services industry and the engineering sector are particularly keen for freelance work, the survey shows.

High-earners (earning more than 20,000 a month) are slightly more inclined toward freelance work (86% said they would take up freelance work) compared to low-income (less than 20,000) earners (80%). Similarly, those who are unmarried are more willing to take up freelance work than those who are married.

This data suggests that Indian youth crave the independence that freelance work offers and corroborates findings from the first round of the YouGov-Mint survey, conducted last year which had shown that a large proportion of Indian youth wanted to start their own businesses rather than look for formal employment.

The biggest variation in attitudes towards freelance work comes from employment status. Surprisingly, it is those who are employed in full-time jobs—rather than those who are unemployed or looking for a new job—who are more willing to consider freelancing over regular employment.

One reason for this could be the dissatisfaction among today’s youth with their existing jobs: a finding that has repeatedly emerged in previous rounds of the You-Gov Mint survey. This dissatisfaction seems to be fuelling greater churn in terms of jobs among the youth.

Younger millennials are changing jobs more frequently compared to their peers in older age cohorts, the data suggests.

And, unsurprisingly, those who change jobs regularly are the ones more willing to try freelance work.

Across the world, freelance work is attractive for many dissatisfied millennial workers because of the control and flexibility in working hours it can offer.

Global surveys have shown that freelance work is a particularly popular option among women. This is not the case in India. Among India’s urban youth, it is the men rather than the women who are more willing to consider taking up freelance work over a regular job.

Taken together, these results reveal a dual challenge in India’s job market. For a large section of the Indian youth, a secure job is the primary demand and need.

According to the latest periodic labour force survey, the unemployment rate among 15- to 29-year-olds was 18% in 2017-18, compared to 6% for the population.

But for another important section of Indian youth, it’s the quality of the job that is the issue. They are aspiring for more in terms of the nature of work, pay and an easier work-life balance.

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