What is a 'Sharing Economy'

A sharing economy is an economic model in which individuals are able to borrow or rent assets owned by someone else. The sharing economy model is most likely to be used when the price of a particular asset is high and the asset is not fully utilized all the time.

BREAKING DOWN 'Sharing Economy'

Communities of people have shared the use of assets for thousands of years, but the advent of the Internet has made it easier for asset owners and those seeking to use those assets to find each other. This sort of lending is sometimes referred to as a peer-to-peer (P2P) rental market.

Sharing economies allow individuals and groups to make money from underused assets. In this way, physical assets are shared as services. For example, a car owner may allow someone to rent out her vehicle while she is not using it, or a condo owner may rent out his condo while he’s on vacation.

Criticism of the sharing economy often involves regulatory uncertainty. Businesses offering rental services are often regulated by federal, state or local authorities; unlicensed individuals offering rental services may not be following these regulations or paying the associated costs, giving them an "unfair" advantage that enables them to charge lower prices.

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