BRUSSELS -- One in four EU residents interviewed in December agreed their education made them interested in becoming entrepreneurs -- far fewer than said so in the U.S. and China.
These findings are from a Flash Eurobarometer study that investigated attitudes toward entrepreneurship and entrepreneurs in the 27 EU member states, the U.S., 50 Chinese cities, and a handful of other countries. The survey found Americans and Chinese respondents were relatively more positive about how their schools prepared them than were residents of EU countries in general.
Within Europe, the assessments varied. Fewer than one in five in Latvia (16%) and Lithuania, Denmark, and Germany (19%) agreed their schools made them interested in becoming entrepreneurs, compared with at least 4 in 10 residents in Portugal (40%), Romania (42%), and Malta (43%). Nowhere in Europe did more than about 1 in 10 strongly agree with this statement.
An Entrepreneurial Attitude
EU residents were more divided about whether their education had helped them develop "a sort of entrepreneurial attitude." About half of EU citizens agreed their education helped them develop this -- but still more Americans and Chinese respondents said this.
Again, attitudes ranged widely across Europe: More than one in four Latvians agreed their schools helped them develop an entrepreneurial attitude, compared with nearly two in three residents in Cyprus and Portugal.
Skills and Know-How to Run a Business
EU citizens were somewhat less likely to say their school education gave them the skills and know-how needed to run a business. Overall nearly 4 in 10 EU respondents (39%) agreed their education provided this, far fewer than the more than two in three Americans and more than half of Chinese surveyed who agreed. Cyprus and Portugal were the only countries in Europe where a majority of respondents agreed with this statement.
Politicians and the public agree that fostering innovation and entrepreneurship should be a priority in Europe. However, the current opinion among adults in many EU countries is that their schools did not effectively equip them to be entrepreneurs. Compared with their counterparts in the U.S. and China, EU citizens were less likely to say that schools helped them cultivate the interest, mindset, skills, and know-how to start new businesses.
European Union results are based on interviews conducted Dec. 11-15, 2009, predominantly via telephone, but with some face-to-face interviews as a result of the low fixed-line telephone coverage in certain eastern European countries. Approximately 1,000 adults, aged 15 and older, were interviewed in Belgium, Czech Republic, Germany, Greece, Spain, France, Italy, Hungary, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, and the United Kingdom. For results based on these samples, one can say with 95% confidence that the maximum margin of sampling error is ±3 percentage points. Approximately 500 adults, aged 15 and older, were interviewed in Austria, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Ireland, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Romania, Slovenia, Slovakia, and Sweden. For results based on these samples, one can say with 95% confidence that the maximum margin of sampling error is ±4 percentage points.
U.S. results are based on telephone interviews with 1,000 adults, aged 15 and older, conducted Dec. 11-23, 2009. For results based on this sample, one can say with 95% confidence that the maximum margin of sampling error is ±3 percentage points.
In China, interviews were conducted with 1,000 randomly selected individuals, aged 15 and older, Dec. 22, 2009, to Jan. 16, 2010, in 50 cities. For results based on this sample, one can say with 95% confidence that the maximum margin of sampling error is ±3 percentage points.
In addition to sampling error, question wording and practical difficulties in conducting surveys can introduce error or bias into the findings of public opinion polls.