Business ownership is becoming less common at younger ages - could it be a funding problem?

The Productivity Commission's recent report on Business Set-up, Transfer and Closure included the following disappointing finding:

The proportion of those aged 25‑34 who owned a business declined between 2006 (8 per cent) and 2011 (7 per cent). The largest proportional decline in business ownership was for those aged 35‑44, while business ownership increased for those over 65.


It is widely acknowledged that the Australian population is ageing (PC 2013a; Commonwealth of Australia 2015) and similar ageing trends have been observed for business owners. The average age of Australian business owners has increased (by one year between 2006 and 2011) to 47 years, in comparison to the broader workforce where the average age of 40 years has remained unchanged over the same period. Nearly 10 per cent of business owners are now beyond the traditional retirement age of 65 and another 20 per cent are within 10 years of the retirement age. 

The Australian Government asked the Productivity Commission to undertake a public inquiry into barriers to setting up, transferring and closing a business and identify options for reducing barriers where appropriate. The inquiry report was handed to the Australian Government on 30 September 2015 and publicly released on 7 December 2015. It deals with the key drivers of business set-ups, transfers and closures.