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The Value of Autonomy: Evidence from the Self-Employed in 23 Countries

  • Matthias Benz
  • Bruno S. Frey

The self-employed are substantially more satisfied with their work than employed persons. We document this relationship for 23 countries and show that the higher job satisfaction can directly be attributed to the greater autonomy that self-employed persons enjoy. "Being your own boss" seems to provide non-pecuniary benefits from work that point to the existence of procedural utility: autonomy is valued beyond outcomes as a good decision-making procedure. The results hold not only for Western European, North American and former communist Eastern European countries, but largely also for countries with a non-western cultural background.

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Paper provided by Institute for Empirical Research in Economics - University of Zurich in its series IEW - Working Papers with number 173.

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Handle: RePEc:zur:iewwpx:173
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  1. Blanchflower, D.G. & Oswald, A., 1991. "What Makes an Entrepreneur?," Economics Series Working Papers 99125, University of Oxford, Department of Economics.
  2. Philippe Aghion & Jean Tirole, 1994. "Formal and Real Authority in Organizations," Working papers 95-8, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Department of Economics.
  3. 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.
  4. Bruno S. Frey & Matthias Benz & Alois Stutzer, . "Introducing Procedural Utility: Not only What, but also How Matters," IEW - Working Papers 129, Institute for Empirical Research in Economics - University of Zurich.
  5. Laporte, Christine & Rivard, Maud-Catherine & Finnie, Ross, 2002. "Setting up Shop: Self-employment Amongst Canadian College and University Graduates," Analytical Studies Branch Research Paper Series 2002183e, Statistics Canada, Analytical Studies Branch.
  6. Blanchflower, David G., 2000. "Self-employment in OECD countries," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 7(5), pages 471-505, September.
  7. Tobias J. Moskowitz & Annette Vissing-Jorgensen, 2002. "The Returns to Entrepreneurial Investment: A Private Equity Premium Puzzle?," NBER Working Papers 8876, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  8. Tobias J. Moskowitz & Annette Vissing-Jørgensen, 2002. "The Returns to Entrepreneurial Investment: A Private Equity Premium Puzzle?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 92(4), pages 745-778, September.
  9. Daiji Kawaguchi, 2002. "Compensating Wage Differentials among Self-Employed Workers:Evidence from Job Satisfaction Scores," ISER Discussion Paper 0568, Institute of Social and Economic Research, Osaka University.
  10. 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.
  11. Baker, George & Gibbons, Robert & Murphy, Kevin J, 1999. "Informal Authority in Organizations," Journal of Law, Economics and Organization, Oxford University Press, vol. 15(1), pages 56-73, April.
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