Entrepreneurship. It’s not for everyone.
But according to a 2012 survey conducted by the European Commission that covered 40 countries, in a handful of nations as diverse as China, the United States, Turkey, Brazil and Lithuania, more than half of adults prefer at least the idea of working for themselves. Far fewer make the leap, of course, and there is a significant gap between the percentage of people who say they would like to be entrepreneurs and those who think it would be feasible to do so.
The gap between fantasy and reality for wannabe entrepreneurs is most pronounced in young people, who are in general most optimistic about their prospects for setting up their own businesses, but least likely to follow through. Also, women in every country except Brazil believe entrepreneurship is less feasible for them than for their male counterparts.
Sweden has the least entrepreneurial population among countries surveyed, and Turkey is by far the most entrepreneurial, with over 80 percent of adults saying they would prefer to work for themselves. Following Turkey in the rankings as most entrepreneurial are Brazil, Lithuania, China, South Korea and the United States. Almost as unlikely as Swedes to want to start their own businesses are Japanese, Norwegians and Finns, with Slovenes and Germans not far behind.
Among young people, while South Korean adults are among the most hopeful of working for themselves, Korean youth are among the least likely to consider entrepreneurship a realistic possibility. Similarly, young Turks are relatively unlikely to consider entrepreneurship feasible.
At the other end of the spectrum from Brazilian women, who view their entrepreneurial prospects as better than those of men, in Slovenia, Poland, Norway and the Netherlands, women see themselves at a significant disadvantage to men. In China, women believe they truly hold up half the sky, as Mao Zedong put it.
Finally, is immigration good for business? Only if you think entrepreneurs are good for business. In OECD countries, around 13 percent of foreign-born workers are self-employed, and migrants represent around 12 percent of the self-employed not working in agriculture. In about two-thirds of the economies where data is available, self-employed immigrants typically have higher levels of educational attainment than native-born self-employed workers.
The study did show, however, large differences across countries in migrant entrepreneurship. In several OECD countries, including Finland, Germany, Sweden, where entrepreneurship is generally low, and the United States, where it is relatively high, the rates of self-employment are similar for native-born and migrant workers; in other countries, such as the Czech Republic and Poland, the self-employment rates of immigrants are much higher than those of native born workers.