Centre for Entrepreneurship, SMEs, Regions and Cities

    This content is no longer published.

    News releaseS

    Encouraging business creation among disadvantaged populations can create jobs and alleviate social exclusion

    Disadvantaged groups in the labour market: OECD/EU report marks added value of entrepreneurship



    Entrepreneurship among under-represented and disadvantaged groups

    There were 30.6 million self-employed people in the European Union in 2016, of which nearly 10.0 million were women, 763 300 were youth, 11.8 million were seniors, 635 000 were unemployed (in 2015) and 3.4 million were immigrants. While there are overlaps between these groups, it is clear that entrepreneurs from under-represented and disadvantaged groups are significant in number. Yet these groups are under-represented relative to their share in employment. For example, women are only half as likely as men to be self-employed and only 4.1% of working youth were self-employed. There is unrealised entrepreneurial potential among these groups that public policy can help unlock.


    Self-employment rate, 2016

    Percentage of total employment


    Note: *denotes data from 2015
    Source: Eurostat (2017), Labour Force Survey, available at:;
    OECD (2016),”Indicators of gender equality in entrepreneurship”, OECD Gender Portal, available at:

    To increase the quantity and quality of entrepreneurship activities by these groups it is important to understand the barriers that they face in business creation. This report shows, for example, that women are less likely to report that they have the skills and knowledge to start a business than men (34.1% vs. 49.9% for men in the European Union between 2012 and 2016, and 36.8% vs. 51.2% for men in OECD countries). Similarly, youth also face challenges due to a lack of skills and experience in the labour market, while the barriers faced by seniors vary depending on individual circumstances, entrepreneurial intentions and experience. Public policy needs to be designed to help people from these groups have an equal opportunity to be successful in entrepreneurship, regardless of personal characteristics and background.


    Further reading

    The OECD is working with the European Commission, DG Employment and Social Affairs to examine the barriers faced to business creation and self-employment by people who are disadvantaged or under-represented in entrepreneurship activities - youth, seniors, the disabled, women, ethnic minorities, the unemployed and others - and the public policy actions that can promote and support these activities.


    For further information or comment, please contact:

    Journalists should contact the OECD's Media Relations Division at (33) 1 45 24 97 00 or