Respondents in the U.S., according to the survey, said small businesses have the "most responsibility" for economic growth—26 percent. Americans rated the importance of small business higher than respondents from either developed or developing nations, including Germany, China, Japan and Singapore, all of which ranked small business in single percentage points.
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Spain came in second in terms of its attitudes toward the importance of small businesses, with 24 percent of respondents saying small businesses are the most responsible for generating economic growth.
Beyond cultural attitudes, factors such as social welfare programs, unemployment benefits and the size of governments can influence views on entrepreneurship, said Kelley of Babson College. A large social safety net and presumed job security can deter entrepreneurship. The opposite scenario can also apply.
"If I have to face a lot of government-imposed restrictions on a business I'm starting, including being unable to fire or lay off employees, there is less incentive to venture into entrepreneurship," she said.
More American entrepreneurs are launching businesses based on perceived opportunities and a broad optimistic outlook—a group sometimes called opportunity entrepreneurs. Opportunity perceptions among Americans reached 47.2 percent in 2013—a record, according to the 15th annual Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM) report released earlier this year.