These are the surprising conclusions of over two decades of life-satisfaction research – Which is rather odd; considering that being your own boss means no health insurance, no pension and no end of the month office party (!!)
With increasing pressure on salaried jobs and ever-diminishing public-sector pensions, many more of us could be looking at self-employment. But can longer hours, increased responsibility and more stress really be for everyone? Surely, having to do the company accounts when your friends are watching the Grand Prix is going to take a psychological and physiological toll…?
Taking a speedy look through the most current research, today’s post might help you find out whether driving solo is really good for you and your health…
Employee vs Boss – Which is better?
My wife and I often disagree. We have different views on politics, movies, food and fashion. I was schooled into thinking that working for a company, with regular hours and guaranteed pay was the most prudent career choice. My wife believes being your own boss comes up trumps.
Thankfully, four years of marriage has had a pleasant moderating influence on our opposing views. Momentarily sidestepping personal opinion and reviewing actual data, a wealth of questionnaire-based research across Europe and USA have concluded:
- A significant proportion of the employed would prefer to work for themselves
- Job satisfaction is significantly and consistently higher amongst the self-employed
- Being self-employed is more stressful but;
- Self-Employed workers prefer the independence and lack of hierarchy their work brings
- Being ‘pushed’ into self-employment is likely to cancel these benefits
- Overall life satisfaction is essentially the same between the employed and the self-employed
Do Self-Employed Workers Lie?
One major problem with these research findings is that all such findings are self-reported and based on questionnaires. Psychologists have recently uncovered the personality traits that tends to make for an entrepreneurial person. It’s no great surprise that these tycoon-types tend to have rather optimistic world view. Such traits also mean that they are unlikely to answer surveys with complete honestly.
In a valiant attempt to deduce whether self-employed folk are the masters of self-deceit, Benjamin Volland from the Max Planck Institute of Economics scrutinised questionnaire data from the British Household Panel Survey and then compared the results with the actual rates of ill-health.
Is it Healthier to be Self-Employed?
He discovered that the self-employed do over-egg their well-being!
The self-employed consistently report better health, but actual results showed there were no differences in the physical and mental health of employed and self-employed people.
So there you have it: Self-employed entrepreneurs are no healthier, they just can’t help exaggerating.
Either that, or salaried workers are just too darned pessimistic and need to buck their ideas up…
Thanks for reading! Thoughts and opinions are welcome…
P.S. The latest issue of ‘Guru’ is now out – a free, bi-monthly, crowd-sourced magazine and a humble attempt make science interesting and engaging. Check it out – I’d love to know what you think (but please don’t be too brutal)!Follow @realdoctorstu
Selected References (it’s a big field but there’s plenty here for the interested reader to dig their teeth into):
Volland, B (2011) Health and Health Assessment Among the Self-Employed (Awaiting publication)
Carree, M., & Verheul, I. (2011). What Makes Entrepreneurs Happy? Determinants of Satisfaction Among Founders Journal of Happiness Studies DOI: 10.1007/s10902-011-9269-3
ANDERSSON, P. (2008). Happiness and health: Well-being among the self-employed Journal of Socio-Economics, 37 (1), 213-236 DOI: 10.1016/j.socec.2007.03.003