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This session is about the implication for entrepreneurship of the ongoing revolution in human longevity in many developed countries—that is, the aging population. Europe is the oldest region in world and has ”the most aged population of older persons, with people aged 80 years or over accounting for nearly one in five of those aged 60 years or over in the region” (United Nation, 2015: 20).  The aging population presents new challenges and, simultaneously, novel opportunities for entrepreneurship and entrepreneurship research.                       

One critical aspect is that the aging population is changing who the entrepreneur is.  Studies confirm an inverted U-shaped relationship between age and entrepreneurship. As already noted, many developed countries are facing an increasing share of elderly individuals. Hence, a smaller labour force must carry the burden and support a larger number of individuals. Thus, from a policy perspective, it is important to discuss possibilities of extending the work careers of the ageing work force. Late-career transitions to entrepreneurship is one promising way to address some of the challenges of an ageing population. An increasingly large share of individuals are transitioning into entrepreneurship at older age (Brown, 2003). Thus, there is reason to question the conventional wisdom that entrepreneurial activity declines with age. We claim that it is becoming increasingly important to understand the transitions between employment, unemployment, retirement, and entrepreneurship among the elderly in a time when the number of healthy older people with improved life expectancy is rapidly increasing.

The aging population also changes the needs that can addressed by entrepreneurship. Aging population creates new demands connected to health care (e.g. services to the aged population), changes in family structure and planning, and education (e.g. long-life learning). Thus, there are research opportunities to investigate whether and how entrepreneurship may help to address these demands.

Overall, we notice an increased interest among researchers in the relationship between aging population and entrepreneurship, many questions are yet unanswered.”

: Mikaela Backman, Jönköping international Business School, Sweden, & Johannes Hagen, Jönköping international Business School, Sweden.

Updated by Rebecca Olsson