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How satisfied are the self-employed? A life domain view

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.