Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Happiness Is Your Own Business

Happiness Is Your Own Business

Great stuff from the Happiness & Public Policy blog. First, a new paper argues that entrepreneurship is a non-profit-seeking activity. That is, the economic benefits of entrepreneurship do not explain its popularity.

Being an entrepreneur seems to be rather rewarding because it entails substantial non-monetary benefits, like greater autonomy, broader skill utilization, and the possibility to pursue one’s own ideas.

The companion piece (by one of the co-authors of the above paper) shows that the self-employed are happier, and that this happiness is not the result of material outcomes, but rather greater independence and autonomy.

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.

Entrepreneurship is an investment in your own happiness. I've certainly paid a price for my choice--25% of my old business school classmates are now millionaires, thanks to some banner years for Wall Street--but I'm far happier with my life than I would be as an 80-hour-per-week banker or asset manager.

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