Self-employment experience effects on well-being: a longitudinal study

Publication type

Journal Article


Publication date

May 1, 2022


The notion that self-employed individuals are more satisfied with their jobs than wage-employees has found broad empirical support. Previous research exploring the well-being effects of self-employment typically relies on direct cross-sectional comparisons between wage-employees and self-employed or on longitudinal investigations of transitions in or out of self-employment. In this study, the authors use individuals’ employment status histories in British longitudinal data to examine how accumulated self-employment experience affects job satisfaction, satisfaction with leisure and satisfaction with income. The study finds that those with past work experience only as self-employed report higher levels of job satisfaction than those with experience only as wage-employees. However, individuals with mixed work experience profiles are the most satisfied. This suggests a non-monotonic relationship between self-employment and job satisfaction. Patterns of self-employment experience and other satisfaction domains, such as satisfaction with income or leisure, are more nuanced, differing across gender lines.

Published in

Economic and Industrial Democracy






Open Access article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 License ( which permits non-commercial use, reproduction and distribution of the work without further permission provided the original work is attributed as specified on the SAGE and Open Access pages (



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