Boom in elderly entrepreneurs, but of what type?

This is an excerpt from the Idea of the Day blog of  The New YoSenior citizen retrainingrk Times:

Today’s idea: The elderly — a drag on the economy? “The United States might be on the cusp of an entrepreneurship boom—not in spite of an aging population but because of it,” a report says.

Aging | “Contrary to popularly held assumptions, it turns out that over the past decade or so, the highest rate of entrepreneurial activity belongs to the 55–64 age group,” writes Dane Stangler of the pro-entrepreneurial Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation. …

Excerpts from that Kauffman report:

  • In each year from 1996 to 2007, entrepreneurial activity was greater for Americans age 55 to 64 than it was for those age 20-34.
  • Average age of founders of technology companies in the U.S. was 39. Twice as many over age 50 than under 25.

I’d expect, but don’t know whether these older entrepreneurs follow the typical patterns of experimental innovators.

Stangler touches on the subject in a footnote that comes close to addressing the contrasting styles of younger conceptual innovators and older experimental innovators:

An acute concern among some readers may be that, as the population’s age distribution continues to shift, we will suffer from a dearth of innovative companies.

The difference, at least intuitively, between a 55-year-old and a 25-year-old company founder may be in their innovative potential — that is, it could be more likely that the older entrepreneur starts a “lifestyle” company while the younger entrepreneur starts a world-changing firm. Such a concern makes sense, but more research needs to be done.

A counter-intution might be that an older worker’s experience — while possibly limiting his or her innovative thinking — might allow him or her a greater scope for innovation that challenges existing companies.


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