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Worth the Risk? The Behavioural Path to Well‐Being

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Journal of Agricultural Economics

Published online on


There is increasing interest in the ‘economics of happiness’, reflected in the volume of articles appearing in mainstream economics journals exploring the major determinants of self‐reported well‐being. We contribute by exploring the factors influencing how satisfied farmers are with their quality of life. We find that farm income, subjective perceptions relating to the adequacy of household income, debt, health and personal characteristics such as age and relationship status are significantly associated with farmers’ self‐reported life satisfaction. While significantly associated with farm income, farm structural variables such as farm size, farm type and the presence of a farm successor were not found to be significantly related with life satisfaction. Our results also suggest that farmers who are more risk averse enjoy significantly lower levels of both life satisfaction and farm income than their more risk seeking or risk neutral counterparts. We suggest that, in the same way that risk aversion inhibits farmers from making choices that could lead to an increase in their income, it may also constrain farmers (and the wider public at large) from engaging in certain types of behaviours that could lead to an increase in their self‐reported quality of life. Finally, we find that while farm income is significantly related to self‐reported life satisfaction, the direct correlation between these variables is weak, suggesting that farmer life satisfaction can be distinct from business success.