Research undertaken by Hitachi Capital UK and the Centre for Economics and Business Research has reported that the over-50s are, in many ways, the backbone of the UK economy.
They are a generation of entrepreneurs, employment creators and investors. The stereotype that this generation are a drain on the rest of society is false when it comes to entrepreneurial spirit and success. In fact, we could go as far as to say that this generation are vital to the UK economy.
What the data says
Looking at this research combined with other data from the Labour Force Survey, it’s the small business owners that really deserve a medal. Over-50 small business owners generate more revenue than younger groups. Given our aging population and retirement ages creeping higher, this is important news on both a personal and societal level.
There are two key aspects of the data that particular attention should be paid to; revenue and the number of people employed. On both these scores the over-50s are now beating their younger counterparts. These entrepreneurs are not just responsible for injecting money in to the economy – they are also responsible for notable job creation.
It hasn’t always been this way
The reason this is important is that it is a relatively new trend, noticeable first in 2016. Previously this generation were shadowed by younger entrepreneurs. In a country with a rich tradition of entrepreneurial spirit this is particularly interesting.
At the moment it looks like the trend is set to continue with businesses owned by the over-50s eclipsing those by other age groups. Seeing this generation outperform younger generations is both encouraging and concerning.
Is it good or bad?
It’s great news for the economy. Without the revenue brought by these small businesses the economy would flounder. It’s also encouraging on a personal level if you’re in this age bracket and considering if you have the time, resources and means to start your own business. There are some concerns however.
The vast majority of the country’s wealth sits in the hands of this generation. The over-50s hold a staggering 69.7% of all household wealth. In population studies the over-50s are rarely seen as a distinct group compared to those 65+ so the comparisons are difficult to draw, but the over-50s certainly don’t account for anywhere near the same proportion of the population.
This raises concerns for the younger generations and the health of the economy going forwards. News reports often paint the difficult financial problems that the younger generations face. It’s worth considering whether this trend will dampen the entrepreneurial spirit in the younger generation who cannot afford to take the financial risks that starting a new business entails.
Nonetheless, what is clear is that we need to rethink our stereotypes about age and about older people working for longer before retirement, or saying goodbye to retirement completely. Alongside this it is important that we nurture and foster our national entrepreneurial spirit across the generations.