Analysis of the gender and age composition of natural persons – entrepreneurs in 2018

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In order to increase the availability of information on the gender and age dimension of entrepreneurship, the Slovak Business Agency annually produces an assessment of the gender and age structure of entrepreneurs in Slovakia. The aim of the drawn up material is to provide information on the gender and age structure of entrepreneurs in a clear form. On the basis of the available data, the gender and age structure, in addition to the individual legal forms of natural persons – entrepreneurs, is also analysed in terms of the sectoral focus and regional affiliation of entrepreneurs.

Male dominance in entrepreneurial activity persists, although the representation of women among natural persons – entrepreneurs increased to 29.2% in 2018. A positive increase in the proportion of women is recorded for the third consecutive year.

Women are over-represented in the different legal forms only in the category of freelancers. Women accounted for more than a quarter of sole traders and more than one-fifth of self-employed peasants.

From a sectoral perspective, women have been particularly successful in advancing in services industries, which are characterised by low capital intensity. The highest representation of sole traders in Slovakia is in the other services sector (NACE Sections P to S), which is the only sector characterised by a long-term increase in the representation of women. In 2018, women accounted for two-thirds of the total number of sole traders in the sector.

The entrepreneurial activity of women among natural persons – entrepreneurs is characterized by a higher level in the regions of western Slovakia and in the northern districts of central Slovakia. The lower level of women’s entrepreneurial activity persists in regions with lower economic performance, in eastern Slovakia and in south-central Slovakia.

According to Eurostat data, Slovakia’s share of women in the total number of entrepreneurs has long been ranked among the countries with below-average representation of women (the share of women in the EU is 32.4%).

Women’s low entrepreneurial activity stems from low self-confidence in entrepreneurial abilities, or lack of perception of suitable business opportunities, as well as a more pronounced fear of failure. Women are also often constrained in entrepreneurship by institutional and market failures. It is therefore desirable to further develop support instruments designed to promote women’s entrepreneurship at the national or regional level, with an emphasis on the less developed regions of Slovakia.

The development of the age structure of natural persons – entrepreneurs in recent years has been characterised by an increase in the representation of entrepreneurs in the younger age categories of less than 30 years old. The representation of elderly entrepreneurs declined again slightly year-on-year (to 10.4%) after a previous increase. However, the representation of elderly entrepreneurs was above average over the period under review.

In terms of the age structure, the highest representation of active natural persons – entrepreneurs in the long term is in the category of 40–49 year olds. In 2018, the share of entrepreneurs in that age group was 27.0%. The second largest group in terms of age were entrepreneurs in the 30–39 age group (24.1%), followed by those in the 50–59 age group (21.6%).

The age structure of freelancers varies considerably depending on the area of business. Persons engaged in architectural and engineering activities and ambulatory and dental activities are characterised by a minimal representation of the under-30 category and a stronger representation of those aged 60 and over.

The age structure of natural persons – entrepreneurs in the regions of the Slovak Republic is largely related to the age structure of economically active persons. The Žilina Region (21.1%), the Prešov Region (19.9%) and the Nitra Region (16.9%) are characterised by the highest representation of natural persons – entrepreneurs aged less than 30 years. The highest share of entrepreneurs aged 60 and over was reached in the Bratislava Region (14.3%) and in the Košice Region (12.3%).

Compared to other EU countries, the age structure of entrepreneurs in Slovakia is characterised by a stronger representation of younger age groups and, on the contrary, a low representation of older age groups.

There was no significant change in the representation of women among natural persons – entrepreneur start-ups in 2018. The share of women in the total number of natural person entrepreneurship start-ups reached 28.5%, which is lower than the total number of natural persons – entrepreneurs and below the ten-year average.

In 2018, the age structure of start-up natural persons – entrepreneurs was characterised by a year-on-year decline in young entrepreneurs under the age of 30. The representation of elderly entrepreneurs aged 50 and over has seen a positive development in the group of start-up entrepreneurs. It has increased compared to 2017, but is below the ten-year average in terms of long-term trends.

Following the state and development of the age structure of entrepreneurs in Slovakia, more attention should be paid to improving the quality of training for young people to enter entrepreneurship due to insufficient entrepreneurial skills, lack of information, or problematic access to finance. In the context of the demographic development of the Slovak population, which is characterised by a gradual ageing of the population, the issue of using the economic potential of seniors, including the involvement of seniors in entrepreneurship and the support of start-up entrepreneurs, is increasingly coming to the fore. Public policies and support instruments designed to promote entrepreneurship should also reflect these challenges.