The Happy Farmer: Self-Employment and Subjective Well-Being in Rural Vietnam

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Using a unique survey data set this paper documents a positive effect of self-employment in farming on subjective well-being. This direct effect is only partly offset by negative, indirect effects working through income and other variables. These findings are interpreted as effects of self-employment in farming on perceived autonomy, competence and relatedness. The results suggest that economic transformation is associated with a psychological cost, which may contribute to explaining earnings gaps between sectors and types of employment. We also investigate other determinants of happiness, and for example find strong positive effects of own income and strong negative effects of neighbors’ income, suggesting the importance of relative rather than absolute levels of income.


External organisations
  • University of Copenhagen
  • United Nations University World Institute for Development Economics Research (UNU-WIDER)
  • Institute of Policy and Strategy for Agriculture and Rural Development (IPSARD)
Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Economics
  • Economic Geography


  • Agriculture, Happiness, Self-employment, Vietnam, Wage work
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1613-1636
JournalJournal of Happiness Studies
Issue number6
Early online date2017 May 15
Publication statusPublished - 2018 Aug
Publication categoryResearch