Millennials Want to Be Entrepreneurs; Like Business, Profit, and Competition


Reason-Rupe has a new survey and report out on millennials—find the report here.

Reason-Rupe's latest poll of millennials finds a majority (55%) hopes to start their own business one day, while 43 percent don't have this desire. More generally, millennials have a positive view of business, entrepreneurship, competition and profit.

A plurality (47%) say that the "strength of this country today is mostly based on the success of American business," while 33 percent say "American business gets more credit than it deserves for keeping the country strong." A fifth aren't sure what to think about American business.

There are predictable differences across political ideology, particularly driven by white liberals. Sixty-one percent of conservatives agree U. S. strength depends on business success, as do 50 percent of moderates. Only 38 percent of liberals agree, while a plurality (41%) says business gets more than its due credit.

Millennials aren't too concerned about business making too much money or paying too little in taxes either. Less than half of millennials say American companies make too much in profits (44%) and the same amount says companies pay too little in taxes (44%). Instead, a majority (54%) says business profits are either the "right amount" (42%) or too little (12%). Similarly, a majority (55%) says companies' taxes are either the "right amount" (37%) or too high (18%).

Partisan differences exist, as more millennial Democrats than Republicans say companies are making too much in profits (54 to 31 percent) and paying too little in taxes (56 to 27 percent). The partisan differences appear partly driven by white Democrats, while non-white Democrats are more favorable toward business.

While millennials are pro-business, they still believe government regulation is necessary to protect the public interest. A plurality (46%) believe, "government regulation of business is necessary to protect the public interest, " while 37 percent say "government regulation of business usually does more harm than good. " Another 18 percent don't know what to think about business regulation. Nevertheless, 63 percent are still concerned that regulators prioritize special interest over the public.

Millennials Like Profit and Competition

"People Not Profit" signs may be popular at Occupy Wall Street rallies, but hostility toward profit is not representative of the average millennial. Instead, young Americans are favorable toward the concepts and values that undergird business and entrepreneurship, including profit and competition.

Seventy percent agree that competition "stimulates people to work hard and develop new ideas. " (Nearly a third have a highly favorable view and 40 percent have a somewhat favorable view). A quarter generally has an unfavorable perception of competition, because it is "primarily harmful" and brings out "the worst in people. "

Sixty-four percent are favorable toward profit because it "encourages businesses to provide valued products to attract customers. " (More than a quarter has a strongly favorable view and 37 percent have a somewhat favorable opinion). A quarter has a primarily unfavorable perception of profit, because it "encourages businesses to take advantage of their customers and employees. "

Less Expensive Imports Trump American-Made

When it comes to buying products at competitive prices or products made in America, millennials are divided. Fifty-two percent say they'd prefer to purchase a lower-priced product of equal quality made in another country, but 45 percent would prefer to purchase a higher-priced product of equal quality made in the United States.

Despite Republicans' rhetorical support for free markets, country loyalty may come first. A slim majority (51%) would rather purchase a higher-priced product made in America while 43 percent would choose a less-expensive product of equal quality made in another country. Nearly the inverse is true of millennial Democrats. Fifty-four percent Democrats opt for the lower-priced product made abroad and 44 percent would rather the more expensive American-made product. Independents are nearly identical to Democrats on this issue.

To learn more about millennials, check out Reason-Rupe's new report.