Eurobarometer Strikes Again

One of my favorite surveys done on entrepreneurship is the Eurobarometer out of the European Union (EU) through Gallup. It is the result of the European Union’s increased focus on entrepreneurship development following their 2000 meeting in Lisbon. The EU Commission is kind enough to include several non-European Union countries in the survey (this year had the U.S. and China, in particular). So, their roughly triennial survey brings important cross-country comparisons. The 2009 version of this survey was recently published

The current year survey instrument (which is at the back of the report) is a big improvement over past instruments and tries to get into topics like how entrepreneurs are viewed in society, the experience of the population with entrepreneurial endeavors, and perceptions of risks, barriers, and opportunities. 

The overview report is about 200 pages so there is too much to cover here but a couple of things that stood out to me in my first pass of the report:

  1. “Looking at those who were not self-employed, in most countries, the proportion of respondents who considered it feasible to become self-employed in the next five years was lower than the proportion of those who would like to be self-employed. In the Nordic countries, however, an opposite trend was seen – i.e. the preference to be self-employed was lower than the perceived feasibility of gaining such a status; for example, 49 percent of non-self-employed Swedish respondents said it would be feasible to become self-employed in the next five years, whereas just 28 percent
    had an actual preference for changing their status.” This is an interesting measure – plans vs. perceptions – and I’d imagine our colleagues in the Nordic countries in charge of entrepreneurship should be very pleased with this result.

  2. The rate of entrepreneurial activity for the U.S. that they measure has gone up from 15 percent in 2004 to 18 percent in 2007 and 21 percent in 2009.  My colleague Mike Horrell pulled together some of the historical data from their reports to show that this change is driven by an increase in reported embryonic activity as well as those reporting work in established businesses (see table of all countries measured in Eurobarometer).
  3. This is one of the few surveys that can tell us anything about how efforts to promote entrepreneurship through education are going.  What they find is “a comparison, between 2007 and 2009 results, concerning the extent to which respondents agreed that their school education prepared them to become entrepreneurs showed that, in 2007, a number of European countries scored better than the US in stimulating entrepreneurship (e.g. Norway 74 percent, Portugal 71 percent vs. US 63 percent); in 2009, however, the US outscored all European countries (US 73 percent, Cyprus 64 percent, Portugal 63 percent).”
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