In the spring of 2014, Uber’s image in Europe was tarnished. The platform is accused of creating a new category of underpaid and underprotected jobs. The idea of ​​tightening regulations, or even banning the Uber application, is gaining momentum. The start-up then tries to impose another story on policy makers and the media: that of a technology company, which structures the informal economy and creates thousands of jobs.

“What we are sorely lacking in France at the moment is scientific or academic evidence in support of our arguments.”an Uber executive insists in an e-mail exchange that The world was able to consult in the context of the international survey “Uber Files”. Hence the idea of ​​finding an academic guarantee, “proving that our beautiful presentations are not just marketing but reflect reality”.

“Uber Files”, an international investigation

“Uber Files” is an investigation based on thousands of internal Uber documents sent from an anonymous source to the British newspaper The Guardianand forwarded to the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) and 42 media partners, including The world.

Emails, presentations, minutes of meetings… These 124,000 documents, dated from 2013 to 2017, offer a rare dive into the mysteries of a start-up that was then trying to establish itself in cities around the world despite an unfavorable regulatory environment. They detail how Uber has used all the lobbying tricks in France as elsewhere to try to change the law for its own benefit.

The “Uber Files” also reveal how the Californian group, determined to impose itself by fait accompli and, if necessary, by operating illegally, has implemented practices deliberately playing with the limits of the law, or which may constitute a judicial obstacle to the investigations referred to. it was object.

Find all our articles from the “Uber Files” survey.

One name immediately stands out: Augustin Landier. At 39, this economics professor, regularly invited by the media, has just been awarded the title of “best young economist” of the year 2014 by The world, the Senate and the Circle of Economists. The icing on the cake, he shares the desks of the Toulouse School of Economics with the Nobel Prize in Economics Jean Tirole.

The interest is mutual. Since the first exchanges, in early 2015, Augustin Landier and his co-author David Thesmar have agreed in principle to carry out a study on behalf of Uber. The compensation of 100 thousand euros they are asking for is debated within the Californian company, but the palatability of the operation prevails. “The key message is employment. (…) We will use the Landier ratio in all respects to obtain a return on investment “writes a lobbyist.

Agree with the facts

The study, written in collaboration with Uber employee Daniel Szomoru, was released in March 2016, mentioning it had been commissioned by the company. The researchers claim that the platform’s drivers would earn nearly double the minimum wage. The media, both French (The echoes, Le Figaro, Capital, France 2, Arte …) and international ones (in particular the Financial Times), gives it a notable echo. “Uber strongly creates jobs”we will also read on the Pôle emploi website.

The study conducted by Augustin Landier does not show the many burdens on the income of motorists

Holy bread for the question, at the cost of a certain agreement with the facts. Indeed, this estimate of the driver’s income does not take into account those who drop out of the application. And this is just a gross result before deducting many of the charges incurred by drivers, such as buying or renting a vehicle, fuel or insurance.

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