An Auckland University study has found workers who start off in temporary jobs have lower chances of switching to regular nine-to-five jobs.
Graduate School of Management professor Elizabeth George was part of a first-time study to look at different work arrangements over time.
The study used data from a long-range French survey following the work lives of 10,000 young people who finished their education in 1998.
It revealed the gig economy or an economy of temporary jobs could quickly become a trap for workers.
Ms George said researchers wanted to find out if the gig economy delivered on its promise of work choice and flexibility.
The study found people who started out in non-standard work arrangement had a low likelihood of changing to a standard job.
However, people who started in standard employment were more likely to be in this type of job at any given point months or years later.
"The difference was more dramatic for people with high and low levels of education compared to medium levels."
Highly educated people who had a standard job at one point in time were nearly eight times more likely to also have a standard job at a later point than those who had had a non-standard job.
However, people with low levels of education who had non-standard employment at a given time were nearly three times more likely to have non-standard work at a later time.
Prof George said it was vital to study the long-term impacts of the gig economy.
"Not just short-term impacts on people but long-term impact people and potentially on societies."
Prof George is now examining the French data to see if gender and social class affects job choices and outcomes.
She will embark on a separate study into the experience of social and psychological connection and isolation for people in non-standard work.