With Matthias Benz

Swedish Economic Policy Review 2004, abstract: "Self-employed people are substantially more satisfied with their work than the employed. We document this relationship for a large number of countries and investigate why the self-employed are happier with their jobs. The results indicate that differences in material outcomes, like higher pay or a lower number of working hours, as well as potential differences in personality cannot account for the observed job satisfaction differences. Rather, the higher job satisfaction among the self-employed can be directly attributed to the greater independence and autonomy they 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. Implications of the results for economic theory and economic policy are discussed"

Economica 2008 (does not cite SEPR 2004), abstract: "One can be independent, or one can be subject to decisions made by others. This paper argues that this difference, embodied in the institutional distinction between the decision-making procedures ‘market’ and ‘hierarchy’, affects individual wellbeing beyond outcomes. Taking self-employment as an important case of independence, it is shown that the self-employed derive higher satisfaction from work than those employed in organizations, irrespective of income gained or hours worked. This is evidence for procedural utility: people value not only outcomes, but also the processes leading to outcomes."

Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization (cites Economica, not SEPR), abstract: "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 mainly be attributed to the more interesting jobs and to the greater autonomy that self-employed persons enjoy. ‘Doing what you like to do’ seems to provide non-pecuniary benefits from work suggesting the existence of procedural utility: interesting work and autonomy are valued beyond material outcomes as good procedural work characteristics. The results hold for western European, North American and eastern European countries, but largely also for countries with a non-western cultural background."


Matthias Benz & Bruno S. Frey (2004): Being Independent Raises Happiness at Work, Swedish Economic Policy Review, 11 (2) Self Employment and Entrepreneurship.

Matthias Benz & Bruno S. Frey (2008), "Being Independent is a Great Thing: Subjective Evaluations of Self-Employment and Hierarchy", Economica 75 (298), 362–83. DOI: 10.1111/j.1468-0335.2007.00594.x

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 68 (3-4), 445-55. DOI: 10.1016/j.jebo.2006.10.014

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