Women at the wheel get bigger tips than men do
WORKING OUT how much to tip in America is never easy. Bartenders, it is said, should be tipped $1 a drink, the equivalent of 10% for a $10 cocktail. Waiters, meanwhile, apparently deserve 15-20%. Such questions of tipping etiquette are baffling. But there is at least one industry in which the practice is becoming less mysterious. A new paper by four economists, Bharat Chandar, Uri Gneezy, John A. List and Ian Muir, analyses more than 40m Uber trips taken in 2017 across America to understand just how much ride-hailing customers tip their drivers.
Whether a taxi ride ends with a tip, it turns out, depends far more on the passenger than the person behind the wheel. The authors found that nearly 60% of people never tip; 1% always do so. Men are more likely to tip than women (17% v 14%) and give more generously ($3.13 v $3.07 on average). Uber passengers rated five stars by drivers, based on previous trips, are more than twice as likely to tip as those with just 4.75 stars. When they tip, they give nearly 14% more.
Savvy drivers can therefore boost their earnings if they know whom to pick up. They have less control, however, over other factors. Female drivers, who account for just one in six trips, earn more, on average, than do their male counterparts (12% more from male customers and 11% from female ones). Young ones fare especially well. A woman aged 21-25 can expect to earn four cents more on each trip than a similarly aged man. By age 65 this tip premium—relative to a 20-something man—disappears (see chart).
This does not mean that a driver’s performance on the road is immaterial. “Hard accelerations” reduce a driver’s tip by an average of 0.7 cents. “Hard brakes” lower tips by 1.3 cents, on average. One might think that speedier drivers, able to get their passengers to the airport or train station on time, would be rewarded for their efforts. In fact, “speeding episodes” reduce tips by an average of 2.9 cents.