Thanks to the Wall Street Journal’s 8 Monday Morning Must Reads I discovered USA Today’s Older entrepreneurs find new niche in startups. This doesn’t surprise me at all, but it was good to see it in print. The quick summary:
Over the past decade, the highest rate of entrepreneurial activity belongs to the 55 to 64 age group, according to a study by the Kauffman Foundation, a Kansas City, Mo.-based entrepreneurship institute. The 20 to 34 age bracket has the lowest rate. Kauffman’s latest study shows that about 23% of new entrepreneurs in 2010 were in the 55 to 64 age group, compared with 15% in 1996.
Much as I like these numbers, there’s a bit of a statistical ruse here. Basic demographics. there’s The trend may not be anything more than the influence of sheer numbers. Take a look at this chart:
The line there is births per year, and the pop up in the line, the blue portion, is the baby boom years. The so-called baby boomers — me included — were born from 1946 to 1958. They are the blue portion of that birth rate line above. So in 1996 we were 50 to 38, and therefore not included in the 55-64 stats. In 2010, however, we were 64 to 52, right in the sweet spot of the statistics. So it might easily be that the pop in the stats isn’t a change in trends, but a reflection of higher numbers of people in the 55-64 age group.
On the other hand, I hope it’s not just statistical distortion. I’d like to think it’s a reflection of increasing longevity and a decline in the strength of the myth or retirement. I think retirement is a social tradition developed in the past for very old people; to a lot of the baby boomers, me included, it’s a nightmare. But careers change and life changes around the ages 55-65, as kids grow up and careers stagnate. And a 60-year-old competent person has another 20, 30 or more years of life expectancy. That’s a long time to sit in a rocking chair. For my part, I posted here just last week about me getting involved in new startups. And I’ve posted here before on how much I don’t want to retire, ever.
Furthermore, there’s a bit of a push and shove in these statistics. Try leaving a job and getting another when you’re 55 to 64. Good luck with that. So you build your own job. And more power to you.