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Are Senior Entrepreneurs Happier than Who? The Role of Income and Health


  • Michael Fritsch

    (Friedrich Schiller University Jena, Germany)

  • Alina Sorgner

    (John Cabot University Rome, Italy, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA), and Kiel Institute for the World Economy (IfW Kiel))

  • Michael Wyrwich

    (University of Groningen, The Netherlands, and Friedrich Schiller University Jena, Germany)


We propose an extension of the standard occupational choice model to analyze the life satisfaction of senior entrepreneurs as compared to paid employees and particularly retirees in Germany. The analysis identifies income and health status as main factors that shape the relationship between occupational status and life satisfaction. Senior entrepreneurs enjoy higher levels of life satisfaction than retirees and senior paid employees. This higher life satisfaction is mainly due to their higher income. Physical and mental health play a crucial role in determining both an individual’s occupational status and their overall life satisfaction. We find that senior self-employed report to be healthier compared to other groups of elderly individuals. However, when controlling for health, retirees exhibit an even higher level of life satisfaction compared to their self-employed counterparts. Heterogeneity analysis of various types of senior entrepreneurs and senior paid employees confirms this general pattern. In addition, we find some evidence indicating that senior entrepreneurs may compromise their leisure time, a main asset of retired individuals. Implications for research, policy, and practitioners are discussed.

Suggested Citation

  • Michael Fritsch & Alina Sorgner & Michael Wyrwich, 2023. "Are Senior Entrepreneurs Happier than Who? The Role of Income and Health," Jena Economics Research Papers 2023-016, Friedrich-Schiller-University Jena.
  • Handle: RePEc:jrp:jrpwrp:2023-016

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. James Curran & Robert A Blackburn, 2001. "Older People and the Enterprise Society: Age and Self-Employment Propensities," Work, Employment & Society, British Sociological Association, vol. 15(4), pages 889-902, December.
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    More about this item


    Senior entrepreneurship; health conditions; well†being; life satisfaction; age;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • L26 - Industrial Organization - - Firm Objectives, Organization, and Behavior - - - Entrepreneurship
    • I31 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty - - - General Welfare, Well-Being
    • J10 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - General
    • D91 - Microeconomics - - Micro-Based Behavioral Economics - - - Role and Effects of Psychological, Emotional, Social, and Cognitive Factors on Decision Making

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