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The innovation-employment nexus: an analysis of the impact of Airbnb on hotel employment

Oswald Mhlanga (School of Hospitality and Tourism Management, University of Mpumalanga – Mbombela Campus, Mbombela, South Africa)

Journal of Hospitality and Tourism Technology

ISSN: 1757-9880

Article publication date: 31 July 2020

Issue publication date: 31 October 2020




The purpose of this paper is to examine the impacts of Airbnb on hotel employment.


A triple-difference regression framework was used to compare changes in hotel employment in three cities in South Africa where Airbnb started operating relative to cities without this home-sharing platform. Data on hotel employment was drawn from the survey on hotel service conducted by Smith Travel Research whereas the data on Airbnb’s listings was drawn from the Airbnb’s homepage for the period between July 2015 and December 2018. The analysis was restricted to 792 hotels.


Although prior studies have showed that Airbnb has an adverse impact on hotel performances, the findings show that total hotel employment expanded after the entry of Airbnb, accompanied by a marked relative shift towards self-employment. Airbnb supply negatively affected permanent employment, which was compensated by increase in temporary employment and self-employment. While the paper finds no evidence of adverse employment impacts, the hourly earnings declined for hotel employees were compensated by increase in income among self-employed Airbnb hosts. Although these findings might be contradictory to the general conjecture, such evidence calls for a comprehensive investigation of Airbnb’s overall economic impact.

Research limitations/implications

First, the study was based on the impact of Airbnb on hotel employment in South Africa. Caution is therefore required when generalising the findings of this study in other geographic areas. Second, some variables that may affect employment have not been included in this study because of the unavailability of data.

Practical implications

The results show that the sharing economy plays an important role in solving the unemployment problem, particularly in South Africa, where there is a high rate of unemployment. More practical implications are further discussed.


To the best of author’s knowledge, this paper provides the first systematic evidence of the impact of Airbnb on labour market outcomes in the hotel industry in South Africa.




研究采用三重差分回归模型, 对南非三个有Airbnb经营的城市与其他没有Airbnb经营的城市做酒店就业情况的对比分析。酒店就业数据来自于Smith Travel Research进行的Hotel Service问卷。Airbnb数据来自于2015年七月至2018年十二月之间的Airbnb主页上的租赁房屋数据。共792家酒店参与了数据分析。


尽管之前的研究表明Airbnb对酒店绩效有着负面影响, 但是本论文研究表明, 在Airbnb进驻城市后, 该城市的酒店就业提升了, 并伴随着显著的自营就业。然而, Airbnb最终还是对长期的就业有着负面影响, 只是短期就业和自营就业的比重增大而已。虽然本论文未发现Airbnb对就业有负面影响, 但是酒店员工的时薪降低了, 随之弥补的是自营就业的收入增加。尽管本研究结果对整体的文献有着矛盾的地方, 但是仍需针对Airbnb经济影响的全面调研。


首先, 本论文仅研究了南非Airbnb对酒店就业情况的影响。其研究结果在其他地区的推广性则有待考察。第二, 受到数据限制, 一些可能会影响就业率的因素未被收录在本研究样本内。


研究结果表明共享经济对解决就业问题有着重要影响, 尤其是在失业率较高的南非地区。更多的实际意义可以被深入讨论。





Mhlanga, O. (2020), "The innovation-employment nexus: an analysis of the impact of Airbnb on hotel employment", Journal of Hospitality and Tourism Technology, Vol. 11 No. 3, pp. 407-423.



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