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Entrepreneurship, Happiness and Supernormal Returns: Evidence from Britain and the US

  • David Blanchflower
  • Andrew Oswald

Do entrepreneurs earn supernormal returns, or does competitive pressure ensure that entrepreneurs receive the same utility level as workers? If those who run their own businesses get supernormal returns (or 'rents') they should be happier than those who work as employees. The paper tests this hypothesis. It uses survey data from Britain and the USA to show that, in comparison with those in regular forms of employment, the self-employed report significantly higher levels of utility as proxied by overall satisfaction data.

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 4228.

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Date of creation: Dec 1992
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:4228
Note: LS
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  1. Gavin C Reid & Lowell R Jacobsen., . "The Small Entrepreneurial Firm," Hume Papers 8, David Hume Institute.
  2. David G. Blanchflower & Bruce D. Meyer, 1991. "A Longitudinal Analysis of Young Entrepreneurs in Australia and the United States," NBER Working Papers 3746, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Richard B. Freeman, 1977. "Job Satisfaction as an Economic Variable," NBER Working Papers 0225, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Rees, Hedley & Shah, Anup, 1986. "An Empirical Analysis of Self-employment in the U.K," Journal of Applied Econometrics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 1(1), pages 95-108, January.
  5. Blanchflower, D. & Oswald, A., 1990. "What Makes A Young Entrepreneur?," Papers 373, London School of Economics - Centre for Labour Economics.
  6. Clark, Andrew E. & Oswald, Andrew J., 1996. "Satisfaction and comparison income," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 61(3), pages 359-381, September.
  7. Borjas, George J & Bronars, Stephen G, 1989. "Consumer Discrimination and Self-employment," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 97(3), pages 581-605, June.
  8. Reid, Gavin C, 1990. "Analysing Rankings, with an Application to the Financing of Small Entrepreneurial Firms," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 100(400), pages 200-205, Supplemen.
  9. Victor R. Fuchs, 1982. "Self-Employment and Labor Force Participation of Older Males," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 17(3), pages 339-357.
  10. George J. Borjas, 1979. "Job Satisfaction, Wages, and Unions," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 14(1), pages 21-40.
  11. Evans, David S & Leighton, Linda S, 1989. "Some Empirical Aspects of Entrepreneurship," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 79(3), pages 519-35, June.
  12. Kanbur, S M Ravi, 1982. "Entrepreneurial Risk Taking, Inequality, and Public Policy: An Application of Inequality Decomposition Analysis to the General Equilibrium Effects of Progressive Taxation," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 90(1), pages 1-21, February.
  13. Bernard F. Lentz & David N. Laband, 1990. "Entrepreneurial Success and Occupational Inheritance among Proprietors," Canadian Journal of Economics, Canadian Economics Association, vol. 23(3), pages 563-79, August.
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