Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Elderly Entrepreneurship

BusinessWeek chronicles the rise of elderly entrepreneurship:
A combination of economic volatility as well as the growing number of baby boomers with time, energy, and money on their hands has redefined the starting age for new startups and has led to a surge in senior citizen entrepreneurs. This is a category that is only recently being studied. Five years ago, Boston's Putnam Research reported that some 7 million previously retired Americans had returned to work. Similarly, a 2005 study by the Center on Aging & Work/Workplace Flexibility at Boston College found that workers 50 and older are more likely than younger folks to own their own businesses.
Ting Zhang, a former PhD student at GMU was awarded a Kauffman Fellowship as a student to study this topic. She completed her dissertation and graduated in 2008. Since then she has successfully published her dissertation as, Elderly Entrepreneurship in an Aging US Economy: It's Never Too Late.

I've meant to recommend it, but now seems like the perfect time. I would say this remains an understudied area and her work is an important contribution. You can read the first chapter here (pdf). Hopefully BW continues work on this area and they certainly could do no better than by getting ahold of Ting's book and interviewing her.

The abstract:
The study of elderly entrepreneurship and its potential impact on labor, Social Security funds and regional economic growth is of significant importance, particularly for the US economy where population aging coincidentally intersects with the economic shift to a “knowledge economy”. On the one hand, aging, combined with a declining average retirement age, is expected to result in labor force shortages and Social Security fund exhaustion; yet on the other hand, the “knowledge economy” could elevate the value of elderly human capital as the “knowledge economy” is less physically demanding and more human-capital- and knowledge-based.

Building on the utility maximization theory, economic growth theories and social theories of aging, this timely book addresses the old-age effect on entrepreneurial propensity; the sources of seniors' entrepreneurship, including the social and policy variables affecting seniors' entrepreneurship; and the economic, fiscal and labor impacts of elderly entrepreneurship.

1 comment:

  1. We've done a lot of work in this area and calling it "Elderly Entrepreneurship" will not win friends among older entrepreneurs:).