Everyone knows that millennials are more interested in running their own businesses than their parents were when they were young. After all, these days, 19-year-old kids get millions of dollars in venture-capital funding and take their companies public well before the age of 30. And many of the poster children for entrepreneurship – Kevin Systrom of Instagram, Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook, and David Karp of Tumblr, are millennials.
So owning a business must be something more young people aspire to now than a generation ago, right?
Data from the Cooperative Institutional Research Program (CIRP) at the Higher Education Research Institute at UCLA, which has been surveying incoming freshmen at U.S. colleges and universities since the 1960s, tell a different story. Millenials, their surveys reveal, are less interested in becoming successful entrepreneurs than baby boomers were when they were the same age. The share of college freshmen that said “becoming successful in a business of my own” was “essential” or “very important” to them dropped from 47.9 percent in 1977 to 41.2 percent in 2012.