A fresh look at self-employment, stress and health:accounting for self-selection, time and gender


Purpose: Past research on self-employment and health yielded conflicting findings. Integrating predictions from the Stressor-Strain Outcome model, research on challenge stressors and allostatic load, we predict that physical and mental health are affected by self-employment in distinct ways which play out over different time horizons. We also test whether the health impacts of self-employment are due to enhanced stress (work-related strain) and differ for man and women. Design/methodology/approach: We apply non-parametric propensity score matching in combination with a difference-in-difference approach and longitudinal cohort data to examine self-selection and the causal relationship between self-employment and health. We focus on those that transit into self-employment from paid employment (opportunity self-employment) and analyze strain and health over four years relative to individuals in paid employment. Findings: Those with poorer mental health are more likely to self-select into self-employment. After entering self-employment, individuals experience a short-term uplift in mental health due to lower work-related strain, especially for self-employed men. In the longer-term (four years) the mental health of the self-employed drops back to pre-self-employment levels. We find no effect of self-employment on physical health. Practical implications: Our research helps to understand the nonpecuniary benefits of self-employment and suggests that we should not advocate self-employment as a “healthy” career. Originality/value: This article advances research on self-employment and health. Grounded in stress theories it offers new insights relating to self-selection, the temporality of effects, the mediating role of work-related strain, and gender that collectively help to explain why past research yielded conflicting findings.

Publication DOI: https://doi.org/10.1108/IJEBR-06-2019-0362
Divisions: College of Business and Social Sciences > Aston Business School > Economics, Finance & Entrepreneurship
College of Business and Social Sciences > Aston Business School
Additional Information: © 2020 Emerald Publishing. This AAM is deposited under the CC BY-NC 4.0 licence. Any reuse is allowed in accordance with the terms outlined by the licence. To reuse the AAM for commercial purposes, permission should be sought by contacting permissions@emeraldinsight.com.
Uncontrolled Keywords: Mental health,Physical health,Propensity score matching,Strain,Time,Understanding society,United Kingdom,Work-related stress,Business, Management and Accounting (miscellaneous)
Publication ISSN: 1758-6534
Last Modified: 19 Jul 2024 07:10
Date Deposited: 09 Jul 2020 07:36
Full Text Link: http://reposito ... ex.ac.uk/27610/
Related URLs: http://www.scop ... tnerID=8YFLogxK (Scopus URL)
https://www.eme ... -0362/full/html (Publisher URL)
PURE Output Type: Article
Published Date: 2020-08-03
Published Online Date: 2020-05-22
Accepted Date: 2020-05-01
Authors: Stephan, Ute (ORCID Profile 0000-0003-4514-6057)
Li, Jun
Qu, Jingjing



Version: Accepted Version

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