IDEAS home Printed from
MyIDEAS: Login to save this paper or follow this series

Life satisfaction and self-employment: A matching approach

  • Martin Binder


  • Alex Coad


Despite lower incomes, the self-employed consistently report higher satisfaction with their jobs. But are self-employed individuals also happier, more satisfied with their lives as a whole? High job satisfaction might cause them to neglect other important domains of life, such that the fulfilling job crowds out other pleasures, leaving the individual on the whole not happier than others. Moreover, self-employment is often chosen to escape unemployment, not for the associated autonomy that seems to account for the high job satisfaction. We apply matching estimators that allow us to better take into account the above-mentioned considerations and construct an appropriate control group. Using the BHPS data set that comprises a large nationally representative sample of the British populace, we find that individuals who move from regular employment into self-employment experience an increase in life satisfaction (up to two years later), while individuals moving from unemployment to self-employment are not more satisfied than their counterparts moving from unemployment to regular employment. We argue that these groups correspond to "opportunity" and "necessity" entrepreneurship, respectively. These findings are robust with regard to different measures of subjective well-being as well as choice of matching variables, and also robustness exercises involving "simulated confounders".

If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.

File URL:
Download Restriction: no

Paper provided by Philipps University Marburg, Department of Geography in its series Papers on Economics and Evolution with number 2010-20.

in new window

Date of creation: Dec 2010
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:esi:evopap:2010-20
Contact details of provider: Postal: Deutschhausstrasse 10, 35032 Marburg
Phone: 064212824257
Fax: 064212828950
Web page:

More information through EDIRC

References listed on IDEAS
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:

as in new window
  1. Jagannadha Tamvada, 2010. "Entrepreneurship and welfare," Small Business Economics, Springer, vol. 34(1), pages 65-79, January.
  2. Andrew E. Clark & Paul Frijters & Michael A. Shields, 2008. "Relative income, happiness, and utility: An explanation for the Easterlin paradox and other puzzles," Post-Print halshs-00754299, HAL.
  3. repec:hal:wpaper:halshs-00564821 is not listed on IDEAS
  4. Katrin Hussinger, 2004. "R&D and Subsidies at the Firm Level: An Application of Parametric and Semi-Parametric Two-Step Selection Models," Public Economics 0403005, EconWPA.
  5. N Powdthavee, 2008. "I Can’t Smile Without You: Spousal Correlation in Life Satisfaction," Discussion Papers 08/16, Department of Economics, University of York.
  6. Andrew E. Clark & Yannis Georgellis, 2002. "Unemployment Alters the Set-Point for Life Satisfaction," Economics and Finance Discussion Papers 02-16, Economics and Finance Section, School of Social Sciences, Brunel University.
  7. Almus, Matthias & Czarnitzki, Dirk, 2003. "The Effects of Public R&D Subsidies on Firms' Innovation Activities: The Case of Eastern Germany," Journal of Business & Economic Statistics, American Statistical Association, vol. 21(2), pages 226-36, April.
  8. Blanchflower, David G & Oswald, Andrew J, 1998. "What Makes an Entrepreneur?," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 16(1), pages 26-60, January.
  9. Benz, Matthias & Frey, Bruno S., 2008. "The value of doing what you like: Evidence from the self-employed in 23 countries," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 68(3-4), pages 445-455, December.
  10. Andrew E. Clark & Ed Diener & Yannis Georgellis & Richard E. Lucas, 2007. "Lags and leads in life satisfaction: a test of the baseline hypothesis," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 19656, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
  11. Clark, Andrew E & Oswald, Andrew J, 1994. "Unhappiness and Unemployment," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 104(424), pages 648-59, May.
  12. Dolan, Paul & Peasgood, Tessa & White, Mathew, 2008. "Do we really know what makes us happy A review of the economic literature on the factors associated with subjective well-being," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 29(1), pages 94-122, February.
  13. Ada Ferrer-i-Carbonell & Paul Frijters, 2002. "How important is Methodology for the Estimates of the Determinants of Happiness?," Tinbergen Institute Discussion Papers 02-024/3, Tinbergen Institute.
  14. van Praag, Mirjam C. & Versloot, Peter H., 2007. "What Is the Value of Entrepreneurship? A Review of Recent Research," IZA Discussion Papers 3014, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  15. Kawaguchi, Daiji, 2008. "Self-Employment Rents : Evidence from Job Satisfaction Scores," Hitotsubashi Journal of Economics, Hitotsubashi University, vol. 49(1), pages 35-45, June.
  16. Andrew Clark, 2001. "Unemployment As A Social Norm: Psychological Evidence from Panel Data," DELTA Working Papers 2001-17, DELTA (Ecole normale supérieure).
  17. Shiv, Baba & Huber, Joel, 2000. " The Impact of Anticipating Satisfaction on Consumer Choice," Journal of Consumer Research, University of Chicago Press, vol. 27(2), pages 202-16, September.
  18. Gardner, Jonathan & Oswald, Andrew J., 2007. "Money and mental wellbeing: A longitudinal study of medium-sized lottery wins," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 26(1), pages 49-60, January.
  19. Alan B. Krueger & David A. Schkade, 2007. "The Reliability of Subjective Well-Being Measures," NBER Working Papers 13027, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  20. McClements, L. D., 1977. "Equivalence scales for children," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 8(2), pages 191-210, October.
  21. Binder, Martin & Coad, Alex, 2010. "An examination of the dynamics of well-being and life events using vector autoregressions," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 76(2), pages 352-371, November.
  22. David G. Blanchflower, 2004. "Self-Employment: More may not be better," NBER Working Papers 10286, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  23. John F. Helliwell, 2002. "How's Life? Combining Individual and National Variables to Explain Subjective Well-Being," NBER Working Papers 9065, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  24. Winkelmann, Liliana & Winkelmann, Rainer, 1998. "Why Are the Unemployed So Unhappy? Evidence from Panel Data," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 65(257), pages 1-15, February.
  25. Bruno S. Frey & Matthias Benz, 2003. "Being Independent is a Great Thing: Subjective Evaluations of Self-Employment and Hierarchy," CESifo Working Paper Series 959, CESifo Group Munich.
  26. Heckman, James J & Ichimura, Hidehiko & Todd, Petra E, 1997. "Matching as an Econometric Evaluation Estimator: Evidence from Evaluating a Job Training Programme," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 64(4), pages 605-54, October.
  27. Böckerman, Petri & Ilmakunnas, Pekka, 2007. "Unemployment and self-assessed health: Evidence from panel data," MPRA Paper 1798, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  28. Anke Plagnol & Richard Easterlin, 2008. "Aspirations, Attainments, and Satisfaction: Life Cycle Differences Between American Women and Men," Journal of Happiness Studies, Springer, vol. 9(4), pages 601-619, December.
  29. Sea-Jin Chang & Arjen van Witteloostuijn & Lorraine Eden, 2010. "From the Editors: Common method variance in international business research," Journal of International Business Studies, Palgrave Macmillan, vol. 41(2), pages 178-184, February.
  30. Joern Block & Philipp Koellinger, 2008. "I can't get no Satisfaction - Necessity Entrepreneurship and Procedural Utility," Tinbergen Institute Discussion Papers 08-078/3, Tinbergen Institute.
  31. Andersson, Pernilla, 2008. "Happiness and health: Well-being among the self-employed," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, vol. 37(1), pages 213-236, February.
  32. Guido W. Imbens, 2004. "Nonparametric Estimation of Average Treatment Effects Under Exogeneity: A Review," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 86(1), pages 4-29, February.
  33. Nicola Fuchs-Schuendeln, 2008. "On Preferences for Being Self-Employed," 2008 Meeting Papers 634, Society for Economic Dynamics.
  34. Sascha O. Becker & Andrea Ichino, 2002. "Estimation of average treatment effects based on propensity scores," Stata Journal, StataCorp LP, vol. 2(4), pages 358-377, November.
  35. David W.Johnston & Carol Propper & Michael A.Shields, 2007. "Comparing Subjective and Objective Measures of Health: Evidence from Hypertension for the Income/Health Gradient," The Centre for Market and Public Organisation 07/171, Department of Economics, University of Bristol, UK.
  36. Marco Caliendo & Alexander S. Kritikos, 2008. "Start-Ups by the Unemployed: Characteristics, Survival and Direct Employment Effects," Working Papers 008, Hanseatic University, Germany, Department of Economics.
  37. Alberto Abadie & David Drukker & Jane Leber Herr & Guido W. Imbens, 2004. "Implementing matching estimators for average treatment effects in Stata," Stata Journal, StataCorp LP, vol. 4(3), pages 290-311, September.
  38. Robert J. MacCulloch & Rafael Di Tella & Andrew J. Oswald, 2001. "Preferences over Inflation and Unemployment: Evidence from Surveys of Happiness," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 91(1), pages 335-341, March.
  39. Clark, Andrew E. & Georgellis, Yannis, 2012. "Back to Baseline in Britain: Adaptation in the BHPS," IZA Discussion Papers 6426, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  40. John F. Helliwell, 2006. "Well-Being, Social Capital and Public Policy: What's New?," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 116(510), pages C34-C45, 03.
  41. van Praag, Bernard M. S., 1991. "Ordinal and cardinal utility : An integration of the two dimensions of the welfare concept," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 50(1-2), pages 69-89, October.
  42. Marco Caliendo & Sabine Kopeinig, 2005. "Some Practical Guidance for the Implementation of Propensity Score Matching," Discussion Papers of DIW Berlin 485, DIW Berlin, German Institute for Economic Research.
  43. Tommaso Nannicini, 2007. "Simulation-based sensitivity analysis for matching estimators," Stata Journal, StataCorp LP, vol. 7(3), pages 334-350, September.
  44. André van Stel & Roy Thurik & Sander Wennekers & Niels Noorderhaven, 2004. "The role of dissatisfaction and per capita income in explaining self-employment across 15 European countries," Scales Research Reports N200407, EIM Business and Policy Research.
  45. Barton H. Hamilton, 2000. "Does Entrepreneurship Pay? An Empirical Analysis of the Returns to Self-Employment," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 108(3), pages 604-631, June.
  46. Easterlin, Richard A, 2001. "Income and Happiness: Towards an Unified Theory," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 111(473), pages 465-84, July.
  47. Oswald, Andrew J. & Powdthavee, Nattavudh, 2006. "Does Happiness Adapt? A Longitudinal Study of Disability with Implications for Economists and Judges," IZA Discussion Papers 2208, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  48. Enrico Santarelli & Marco Vivarelli, 2007. "Entrepreneurship and the process of firms’ entry, survival and growth," Industrial and Corporate Change, Oxford University Press, vol. 16(3), pages 455-488, June.
  49. Ari Hyytinen & Olli-Pekka Ruuskanen, 2007. "Time Use of the Self-Employed," Kyklos, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 60(1), pages 105-122, 02.
  50. Cooper, Arnold C. & Artz, Kendall W., 1995. "Determinants of satisfaction for entrepreneurs," Journal of Business Venturing, Elsevier, vol. 10(6), pages 439-457, November.
  51. Paul Reynolds & Niels Bosma & Erkko Autio & Steve Hunt & Natalie De Bono & Isabel Servais & Paloma Lopez-Garcia & Nancy Chin, 2005. "Global Entrepreneurship Monitor: Data Collection Design and Implementation 1998–2003," Small Business Economics, Springer, vol. 24(3), pages 205-231, 02.
  52. Binder, Martin & Coad, Alex, 2011. "From Average Joe's happiness to Miserable Jane and Cheerful John: using quantile regressions to analyze the full subjective well-being distribution," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 79(3), pages 275-290, August.
  53. David G. Blanchflower, 2000. "Self-Employment in OECD Countries," NBER Working Papers 7486, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  54. Ichino, Andrea & Mealli, Fabrizia & Nannicini, Tommaso, 2006. "From Temporary Help Jobs to Permanent Employment: What Can We Learn from Matching Estimators and their Sensitivity?," IZA Discussion Papers 2149, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  55. Martin Binder & Alex Coad, 2010. "Going Beyond Average Joe's Happiness: Using Quantile Regressions to Analyze the Full Subjective Well-Being Distribution," Papers on Economics and Evolution 2010-10, Philipps University Marburg, Department of Geography.
  56. Blanchflower, David G. & Oswald, Andrew & Stutzer, Alois, 2001. "Latent entrepreneurship across nations," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 45(4-6), pages 680-691, May.
Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

This item is not listed on Wikipedia, on a reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.

When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:esi:evopap:2010-20. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Christoph Mengs)

If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.

If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.

If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

This information is provided to you by IDEAS at the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis using RePEc data.