Journal of Evolutionary Economics

, Volume 17, Issue 2, pp 161–185 | Cite as

Postmaterialism influencing total entrepreneurial activity across nations

  • Lorraine UhlanerEmail author
  • Roy Thurik
Regular Article


The relative stability of differences in entrepreneurial activity across countries suggests that other than economic factors are at play. The objective of this paper is to explore how postmaterialism may explain these differences. A distinction is made between nascent entrepreneurship, new business formation and a combination of the two, referred to as total entrepreneurial activity, as defined within the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM). The model is also tested for the rate of established businesses. The measure for postmaterialism is based upon Inglehart’s four-item postmaterialism index. A set of economic, demographic and social factors is included to investigate the independent role postmaterialism plays in predicting entrepreneurial activity levels. In particular, per capita income is used to control for economic effects. Education rates at both secondary and tertiary levels are used as demographic variables. Finally, life satisfaction is included to control for social effects. Data from 27 countries (GEM, World Values Survey and other sources) are used to test the hypotheses. Findings confirm the significance of postmaterialism in predicting total entrepreneurial activity and more particularly, new business formation rates.


Comparative analysis of economies Cultural economics Entrepreneurship Self-employment Macro-economic analyses of economic development 

JEL Classification

P52 Z1 M13 O11 O57 



We would like to thank Peter van Hoesel, André van Stel, Ingrid Verheul and Sander Wennekers for helpful comments. We would also like to thank Jan Hutjes, Jacques Niehof and Hanneke van de Berg for their contributions to earlier versions of this paper. Earlier versions have been read at the Small Business and Entrepreneurship Development Conference (University of Nottingham, UK, 15–16 April 2002), the Babson Kauffman Entrepreneurship Research Conference (University of Colorado, Boulder, CO, 6–8 June 2002), ICSB 47th World Conference (San Juan, Puerto Rico, 15–19 June 2002) the BRIDGE Annual Entrepreneurship Workshop (Bloomington, IN, 21 April 2003), the Global Entrepreneurship Research Conference I, Berlin (KfW bank), 1–3 April 2004 and the Workshop on Entrepreneurship and Culture (Max Planck Institute of Economics, Jena, 7 February 2005). The present report has been written in the framework of the research program SCALES which is carried out by EIM and financed by the Dutch Ministry of Economic Affairs. Lorraine Uhlaner acknowledges financial support of Arenthals Grant Thornton Netherlands, Fortis Bank, and Fortis MeesPierson, a subsidiary of Fortis Bank specialized in private wealth management.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.European Family Business Institute, Centre for Advanced Small Business Economics, Erasmus School of EconomicsErasmus University RotterdamRotterdamThe Netherlands
  2. 2.Centre for Advanced Small Business Economics, Erasmus School of EconomicsErasmus University RotterdamRotterdamThe Netherlands
  3. 3.EIM Business and Policy ResearchZoetermeerThe Netherlands
  4. 4.Max Planck Institute of EconomicsJenaGermany

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