Journal of Happiness Studies

, Volume 17, Issue 4, pp 1409–1433 | Cite as

How Satisfied are the Self-Employed? A Life Domain View

  • Martin BinderEmail author
  • Alex Coad
Research Paper


It is well-known in the literature that self-employment positively influences job satisfaction, but the effects on other life domains and overall life satisfaction are much less clear. Our study analyzes the welfare effects of self-employment apart from its monetary aspects, and focuses on the overall life satisfaction as well as different domain satisfactions of self-employed individuals in our German sample from 1997 to 2010. Using matching estimators to create an appropriate control group and differentiating between different types of self-employment, we find that voluntary self-employment brings with it positive benefits apart from work satisfaction, and leads to higher overall life satisfaction as well as increased health satisfaction, all of which increase in the first three years of self-employment. Being forced into self-employment to escape unemployment, however, confers no such benefits. Additionally, both types of self-employment lead to increasing dissatisfaction with one’s leisure time.


Subjective well-being Self-employment Domain satisfaction Matching estimators SOEP 

JEL Classification

L26 J24 J28 



We are grateful to Simon Parker for many helpful comments. We also want to thank two anonymous referees for their suggestions. This research was funded by the ESRC-TSB-BIS-NESTA as part of the ES/J008427/1 grant on Skills, Knowledge, Innovation, Policy and Practice (SKIPPY). The data used in this publication were made available to us by the German Socio Economic Panel Study (GSOEP) at the German Institute for Economic Research (DIW), Berlin. Neither the original collectors of the data nor the Archive bears any responsibility for the analyses or interpretations presented here. The usual caveat applies.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Bard College BerlinBerlinGermany
  2. 2.Levy Economics Institute of Bard College, BlithewoodBard CollegeNew YorkUSA
  3. 3.JRC-IPTSEuropean CommissionSevilleSpain

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