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Emergency start-ups: University dropouts are the less successful founders

The scientists Guido Buenstorf, Kristian Nielsen and Bram Timmermans evaluated Danish labor market data and found that those who drop out of their studies are much more likely to start a business afterwards. 2.4 percent of dropouts go into business on their own, but only 1.5 percent of successful graduates. It is not clear from the data whether self-employment is an emergency solution here, but the conclusion is obvious.

In Germany, unemployment is one of the reasons why people want to become self-employed. Even those who actually dared to take the step into self-employment were often not just about realizing great ideas or being their own boss. Many just wanted to get out of unemployment.

However, the step into self-employment did not pay off for the Danish founders who gave up their studies. At least not in comparison to the competition: They made an average turnover of 360,000 kroner (48,345 euros). Founders with a university degree, on the other hand, had an annual turnover of 480,000 crowns (64,460 euros). The income of the founders themselves was also 17 percent lower on average. "The study provides no evidence for the thesis that success stories like those of Steve Jobs or Mark Zuckerberg are typical of college dropouts," writes B├╝nstorf in his essay, which was published in the journal Small Business Economics. Zuckerberg, Gates and Jobs didn't set up their companies after they'd been thrown out of university or rattled through exams; they gave up their studies in favor of their companies.