Getting the Bug: Is (Growth) Entrepreneurship Contagious?

The paper presents the results of a survey of 2,000 Americans across the country, asking whether they knew entrepreneurs – both in general and specifically "growth" entrepreneurs whose ventures add more employment and wealth to the economy – and if they themselves were entrepreneurs.

The paper "Getting the Bug: Is (Growth) Entrepreneurship Contagious?" presents the results of a survey of 2,000 Americans across the country, asking whether they knew entrepreneurs – both in general and specifically "growth" entrepreneurs whose ventures add more employment and wealth to the economy – and if they themselves were entrepreneurs.

The data then was analyzed by age, gender, geographic region and income level.

Overall, 36.7 percent of respondents reported knowing an entrepreneur, but only 15.4 percent knew a growth entrepreneur. These differences were more dramatic when evaluated by gender: 24.8 percent of men claimed to know a growth entrepreneur, compared with 12.1 percent of women.

Similar disparities appeared by income level: lower income respondents (annual salary of $24,999 or less) were most likely to know so-called "subsistence entrepreneurs" (48.1 percent), but least likely to know a growth entrepreneur (13.8 percent), while 26.7 percent of higher-income respondents knew growth entrepreneurs.

The survey also examined whether respondents knowing entrepreneurs made them more likely to be entrepreneurs themselves. The results indicate a significant association between knowing an entrepreneur and being one: 37.8 percent of respondents who knew a growth entrepreneur were entrepreneurs themselves, as were 35.5 percent of respondents who knew entrepreneurs overall. Men were more likely to be entrepreneurs if they knew an entrepreneur than were women, in both the growth and overall entrepreneur categories.

Other survey findings include:

  • People in the U.S. Northeast were more likely to know entrepreneurs overall than in other areas of the country, with 43.1 percent reporting knowing an entrepreneur. However, respondents in the U.S. West were most likely to report knowing a growth entrepreneur specifically (18.2 percent) than people in other geographic regions.
  • Younger respondents (ages 25-34) had an edge over other age groups in knowing growth entrepreneurs (20.2 percent), while respondents ages 45-54 were most likely to know an entrepreneur in general (48.6 percent).