Category Archives: Firms creation

21/5/19: ‘Popping up everywhere’ or not? Entrepreneurship and start ups


Much has been written, taught and said about the New Age of Entrepreneurship and the new generations of entrepreneurs, allegedly springing up across the modern economies. The problem is, for all the marketing hype and academic programs enthusiasm, entrepreneurship (new business formation) is actually running pretty low.

Here is the U.S. data on new business formation:


While other data, e.g. Kauffman Foundation, shows relatively stable and even higher rates of entrepreneurship over recent years, much of this data aggregates both incorporated and non-incorporated businesses, including sole traders and self-employed. This is reflected in the fact that entrepreneurship rates in recent years have been sustained solely by a massive increase in entrepreneurship uptake by individuals with less than high school education and of older age cohorts:

Source: https://indicators.kauffman.org/wp-content/uploads/sites/2/2019/02/2017-National-Report-on-Early-Stage-Entrepreneurship-February-20191.pdf

Over the same time, cohorts with higher education have seen a decrease in their entrepreneurship rates, driven in part by their rising share of population, their rising numbers, and, well, yes, lower incentives to undertake entrepreneurial risks.

Now, as to the age of entrepreneurs we have.
Source: https://indicators.kauffman.org/wp-content/uploads/sites/2/2019/02/2017-National-Report-on-Early-Stage-Entrepreneurship-February-20191.pdf 

In  summary, the above table shows that the rates of entrepreneurship amongst the Millennials have declined, the rates for GenX-ers (35-44 cohort) have risen, but are quite volatile, with significant increases (2009-2010) associated with greater involuntary entrepreneurship (high unemployment), while overall increases in entrepreneurship have ben sustained by entrepreneurs of ages 45 and older.

So, to that often repeated popular and academist 'truism' of the New Age of Entrepreneurship and the great entrepreneurial spirit of the younger generations... errr, not quite.

Note: caveats notwithstanding, good data on the subject is available here: https://www.kauffman.org/currents/2019/02/indicators-provides-early-stage-entrepreneurship-data.