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NA vs WE: Who’s More Entrepreneurial? 2 Charts Tell The Story

The pandemic pushed young consumers to seek new job opportunities—including starting their own businesses. But who’s seeking self-employment the most—young Europeans or North Americans?


  • As young consumers rethink their relationship to work and seek more fulfilling roles, many are starting their own companies 
  • Young Europeans are more likely to say they want to work for a large company than a startup—and young North Americans are split
  • While young North Americans are ready to risk it all on their own company, young Europeans are less convinced

Last year, YPulse’s WE What’s Next for Work trend research explored how the pandemic provoked young workers to re-examine not only their jobs but their entire relationship with work. Our research showed that, among other things, The Great Resignation is very real—and it’s happening in Western Europe, too. One in five European Millennials quit their job in the last year, and our recent WE Employment and Career Goals report found that two in five 13-39-year-olds plan to quit their job in the next year.

While many young Europeans are seeking new roles for higher pay, flexible work arrangements, and more meaningful work, some are also seeking to start their own businesses. In fact, we previously found that Gen Z and Millennials are driving entrepreneurship in Western Europe, spurred on in part by the pandemic. Of course, this is happening in North America, too, and the entrepreneurial spirit of America has long overshadowed Europe’s. But has the pandemic changed this? We dug into our recent Employment and Career Goals data to find out who’s more entrepreneurial now. These two charts tell the story:

Young Europeans would rather work for a large company than a startup while young North Americans are divided.

The siren song of Silicon Valley is strong in North America, and Gen Z and Millennials all over the U.S. and Canada have either made their way there to join the startup scene or want to—half of young North Americans would rather work for a small startup-like company than a large established organization with many employees. In Western Europe, startup culture hasn’t caught on quite as heavily: just 43% would rather work for a startup, indicating that their entrepreneurial spirit may be less free. But this isn’t true across the board: 53% of young French consumers would opt for the startup. This is likely driven in part by the country’s recent push to become an entrepreneurial hotbed, which has made the country home to the world’s largest startup incubator. Young Spanish and Italian consumers, meanwhile, are the least likely to say they’d want to work at a startup, despite Spain also pushing to become an “entrepreneurial nation.” And risk could have something to do with it…

Young Europeans are less willing to risk starting their own company. 

Nearly half of young Europeans say they’d rather have the stability of working for a big company than risk losing it all on their own—a full +10pts more than their North American counterparts. In fact, many young North Americans are ready for that risk: 33% say they plan to start their own company compared to 25% of young Europeans. Indeed, our data also shows young Europeans are less likely to say starting their own company is important to them (41%) compared to North Americans (48%), and they’re also less likely to say it’s their dream job: when we ask these gens to tell us the top company they’d want to work for, their own company comes in at No. 9 for young Europeans and No. 4 for North Americans. Meanwhile, 10% of young North Americans are already self-employed compared to just 4% of young Europeans.

All of this makes one thing clear: as of now, North Americans are more entrepreneurial than their young European peers. But that doesn’t mean the growing entrepreneurial spirit of Gen Z and Millennials in Western Europe should be ignored. As they continue to seek meaningful work and as their governments push for innovation, these young consumers could catch up to young North Americans.

YPulse Western Europe Business users can access the full WE Employment and Career Goals behavioral report and data here.

Don’t have a YPulse Western Europe Business account? Find out more here.