Wellbeing and Entrepreneurship: Using Establishment Size to Identify Treatment Effects and Transmission Mechanisms

Reprint No. 2020:4

Using data from the European Value Survey, covering more than 300,000 respondents in 32 countries between 2002 and 2012, we offer new insight into the consequences for subjective well-being of self-employment. We hypothesize that the positive link between entrepreneurship and well-being is influenced by the extent to which the decision to engage in entrepreneurship reflects voluntary choice and by the ability of the entrepreneur to match entrepreneurial preferences for autonomy, task variety, and challenging tasks to task environments. While the hypotheses are confirmed by our empirical analysis, we also find— rather surprisingly—no evidence that the effects are mediated by autonomy. To handle the endogeneity and simultaneity problems that arise from the fact that the choice to become an entrepreneur is not random and which potentially threaten the validity of our findings, we rely on a novel econometric method which allows us to sidestep the selection problem and establish that the well-being increase associated with entering into entrepreneurial activity is at least approximately equivalent to a one-decile increase in household income.

Bjørnskov, Christian and Nicolai Foss (2020), "Wellbeing and Entrepreneurship: Using Establishment Size to Identify Treatment Effects and Transmission Mechanisms". PLOS One 15(1), 1–22.

Christian Bjørnskov


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Interdisciplinary European Studies

The European Union and the Return of the Nation State


This book explores the complex and ever-changing relationship between the European Union and its member states. The recent surge in tension in this relationship has been prompted by the actions of some member state governments as they question fundamental EU values and principles and refuse to implement common decisions seemingly on the basis of narrowly defined national interests.

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