Monday, April 6, 2015

Demographics of Mechanical Turk: Now Live! (April 2015 edition)

One of the most common question that I receive is whether I have new data about the demographics of Mechanical Turk workers. The latest data that I had collected were back in 2010, and it was not clear how things have changed since then. The key problem was not that I could not run additional surveys; that would have been trivial. However, the results of the surveys were always changing over time: the aggregate data varied too much across surveys, so I refrained from publishing data that seemed to be unreliable.

So, I thought of how I tackle two problems at once:
  • Make it easy for people to see current data about the demographics of Mechanical Turk workers
  • Make it easy to understand the inherent variability of the collected data, and potentially understand the source of the variability
For that reason, we built a new site:

(please also check the API)

The site displays live data about the demographics of the workers, based on a small 5-question survey that users are asked to answer (paying 5 cents for each). To be able to capture the time variability, we post one survey every 15 mins, allowing us to observe changes in the answers over time. We also restrict each worker to be able to answer the survey only once per month.

A few key results:


Overall, we see that approximately 80% of the Mechanical Turk workers are from the US and 20% are from India.

However, this mix is not stable during the day. Around 8-10am UTC (ie 3am NYC time, 1.30pm India time), there is much higher number of workers from India (~50%), which then goes down to 5% at 8-10pm UTC.

The gender participation seems to be balanced, with roughly 50% males and 50%. The charts that examine variability based on hour of day and day of the week do not show any change in this pattern.

Roughly 50% of the workers are born in the 1980's and are around 30 yrs old. Approximately 20% of the workers are born in the 1990's, and another 20% are born in the 1970's. 

Marital Status

Approximately 40% of the workers are single, 40% are married, and 10% are cohabitating.

Household Size

Approximately 15% live alone. Then 25% have a household size of two and 25% have a household size of three. Around 25% live in a household of four, and around 10% have five or more members in their household.

Income level

The median household income is around \$50K per year for US Turkers, which is on par with the median US household income. Indian workers have considerably lower household income, with most of them being around \$10K/yr.

Next steps

In our next steps, we plan on making the (anonymized) survey responses available through an API, and potentially add a few more graphs of interest. If you have any idea or suggestion, please send it my way.