What data on 40m rides tell us about how people tip Uber drivers

Evelyn Hockstein/For The Washington Post via Getty Images To tip, or not to tip — that is the question. In a new NBER working paper, researchers analyzed more than 40m Uber trips during a 4-week span in 2017 and looked at how much riders tipped, and how these tips varied based on a multitude of […]


October 24, 2019

Evelyn Hockstein/For The Washington Post via Getty Images

To tip, or not to tip — that is the question.

In a new NBER working paper, researchers analyzed more than 40m Uber trips during a 4-week span in 2017 and looked at how much riders tipped, and how these tips varied based on a multitude of factors.

Turns out, most of us could benefit from a bit more generosity. Among the findings:

By one estimate, the average Uber driver in the US earns around $9.21 an hour after expenses like gas, service fees, and car maintenance. Many drivers say they rely on tips — first introduced to the Uber app in 2017 — to make a sustainable living.

On UberPeople.net, a popular forum for rideshare drivers, one of the hottest topics is how to get riders to tip more often. Some suggest simple passenger-pleasers like phone chargers and mini water bottles; others are a tad more extreme. 

“Don’t unlock your doors unless they tip,” one poster advises a young gun. “It’s called the ‘No tip, no go’ strategy.”

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