BRUSSELS (AP) -- Europeans are far less keen to start their own businesses than Americans or Chinese, according to a European Union study published Friday.
Only 45 percent of people in Europe said they would prefer to work for themselves instead of being an employee -- compared to 55 percent of Americans and 71 percent of Chinese.
However, only 12 percent questioned in the EU currently run their own company. In the U.S., 21 percent were self-employed with slightly more in China, at 27 percent.
The study surveyed some 26,000 people in 36 countries by telephone in December 2009 -- including the EU's 27 nations, the United States, Japan, South Korea and China. It had a margin of error of 0.7 percent.
Americans now show less interest in going it alone in business than they did in 2007, before the start of a harsh economic downturn which has raised the costs of business failure. Three years ago, some 61 percent of people in the survey said they would like to be self-employed.
The survey showed big differences in how entrepreneurs are seen. In the U.S., some 73 percent had a favorable image of entrepreneurs. In Europe, only 49 percent saw them positively.
Japan showed the least interest in starting a business, with only 39 percent of people saying that they would prefer that to a salaried job.