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The OECD’s Missing Entrepreneurs: how ‘youth’ and ‘seniors’ fall outside the ‘mainstream’

by on November 19, 2015

Having written here about how the term ‘missing million’ has been used to describe both youth and mature age unemployment, we now have The Missing Entrepreneurs 2015, courtesy of the OECD. In fact this is the third of these reports with a similar title but for some reason I don’t think we had focused on them before, perhaps not looking beyond the title to discover the age aspects.

Anyway, the latest report addresses what it refers to as ‘non mainstream’ enterprise within the EU; how this is defined is quite fascinating. Basically ‘mainstream‘ enterprise is conducted in a country by non-immigrant men who have not been unemployed and are aged between 25 and 49. They are descibed as the ‘core‘. Everyone else is either under-represented or disadvantaged. So the focus on the report is on enterprise by women (of all ages), the young (15-24), ‘seniors’ (50-64), those who have been unemployed and those who are ‘foreign born’.  Obviously these are potentially overlapping categories but, even so, I don’t think I’ve ever seen the concept of the mainstream or core put quite so starkly.

The report is part of a collaboration to address policies that can make enterprise more inclusive.  At 196 pages, there’s a lot of material included comparative rates of self-employment for these different groups, breakdowns by individual EU countries and analysis of the barriers to enterprise that draws on primary research in this area.

Within the EU the report finds that ‘older people (50-64 years old) were more likely to be self-employed than youth (15-24 years old) and than adults overall (15-64 years old).  With nearly 20% of older people who were working being self-employed, it suggests that this is an important means for seniors to stay in work. We’ve noted before how enterprise has been suggested as a solution to a lack of jobs for those at both ends of their careers but particularly for older workers who can face a double bind otherwise (criticised for taking jobs from younger workers if they work or for not being economically active if they don’t).

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