Entrepreneurship is widely acknowledged as the basis for innovation, technological advancement and economic progress—and subsequently, a driving force for improved living standards.
Most of us are generally unaware that as our population ages, the share of the population best positioned to be successful entrepreneurs—individuals in their late-20s through to their early-40s—will shrink. People in this age group drive entrepreneurship because they are both willing to take risks to start their own business while also possessing real-world business experience, which increases the likelihood of success.
While there’s little that governments can do to halt the ageing of their populations, a number of policy initiatives could strengthen the incentives for entrepreneurship and improve the likelihood of successful new business start-ups.
Key among potential policy reforms is tax relief, both in the form of reductions in marginal tax rates for individuals and businesses and reductions (or even the elimination) of capital gains taxes. These reforms were broadly determined to strengthen the incentives for people to start and grow businesses (i.e. take risks) and expand the pool of entrepreneurial capital.
Other key potential reforms include reducing red tape to make it easier to start new businesses and grow existing ones, changes to banking and financial regulations that would make it easier for entrepreneurs to access the financial capital needed to start and grow their businesses, and policies encouraging increased immigration of individuals with skills and other attributes that make them potential entrepreneurs.
Developed countries face a long-term decline in entrepreneurship that is at least partially driven by demographics. Since demographic trends cannot be easily reversed, countries will have to improve the environment in which entrepreneurs and businesses operate, to encourage more and better entrepreneurs.
Read Demographics and Entrepreneurship: Mitigating the Effects of an Ageing Population to find out how we can mitigate these demographic trends. It's a collaboration with Canada’s Fraser Institute, the Centre for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) in the US and the Institute of Public Affairs in Australia.