One of the newer global developments in surveys is the Gallup World Poll. While I can't find an exact starting point, I know that I have seen some data from the World Poll going back to 2005, although the data is only now making its way into academic and non-academic publications.
Sample academic publication: Deaton, Angus 2008. "Income, Health, and Well-Being around the World: Evidence from the Gallup World Poll." Journal of Economic Perspectives, 22(2): 53–72.
Sample non-academic publication: South Africans Optimistic About Local Entrepreneurship
Currently, Gallup reports at least bi-annual coverage on the core survey instrument for more than 150 countries. The World Poll seems to have very promising possibilities for future research and policy work in entrepreneurship because Gallup is collecting data on entrepreneurship in several different portions of their instrument, including on general population perception questions like, "Is the city or area where you live a good place or not a good place for entrepreneurs forming new businesses," or "If someone wants to start a business in X, can they trust their assets and property to be safe at all times?"
Indeed the hardest part about Gallup's data is getting access as the current subscription price is quite substantial. There is no doubt that they've put together a very powerful instrument and their execution seems as top-quality as we would expect from Gallup. My main criticism of them thus far, and I've shared this directly, is that many of the questions focus mostly on the smallest of entrepreneurs or entry while what we are most lacking globally are real perceptions about growing businesses. That said, if someone out there does end up subscribing to the data and needs coauthors, I know of several people who would be interested.
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