Baby Boomers Increase Entrepreneurial Activity

We were very interested to learn that in the US today, baby-boomers prove to be more entrepreneurial than younger generations. Generally we believe that the risky economic behavior associated with starting your own business is the province of the young. Yet, over the past decade, the highest rate of entrepreneurial activity belongs to those from 55-64 years old.

Factors that seem to encourage this behavior are: A lower sense of commitment to a single career or one company; longer years of productive activity allowed by better health and energy; a desire to be one’s own boss; and being a victim of downsizing. As a result, the Kauffman Foundation predicts that the U.S. is on the cusp of an entrepreneurship boom, and this is very good for the country because start-ups are presumed to be engines of productivity, new job creation, and expanding economic wealth.

Jan Wassel reviewed two books related to this trend. The first, The Second Chance Revolution: Becoming Your Own Boss After 50 by Edward Rogoff and David Carroll is an excellent source for those considering entrepreneurship. After assessing the risks of this high-wire activity, they help the reader understand critical areas such as financing, tax and legal issues, family business issues, hiring, structuring boards, and team building. They also include worksheets to help readers assess their own situation.

A second book, Elderly Entrepreneurship in an Aging US Economy, by Ting Zhang, lauds older workers for contributing significantly to economic growth. Developed from his dissertation, Zhang has created a highly sophisticated discussion of the incentives and disincentives for adults over 61 to continue to work. He believes that older adults’ positive economic influence on the US economy has not been fully recognized, and argues for tax incentives for older adults. Increasing entrepreneurial activity promotes an environment of “cultural openness, social tolerance, and diversity, together with low-income tax rates encourages older adults’ business growth” (pg.865).



About Jan Wassell

From: Older Entrepreneurs as the New Economic Frontier by Jan Wassel, The Gerontologist, 2011, 50, 863-865.

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