10/03/2012 04:31 pm ET Updated Dec 03, 2012

Think We're the Most Entrepreneurial Country In The World? Not So Fast

America's entrepreneurial streak as one of the things that, theoretically, is supposed to make us exceptional as a country. At least it is if you listen to most politicians. But how do we actually stack up with rest of the world when it comes to building our own businesses?

We are, in fact, pretty unexceptional.

We Have We Have a Start-up Rate Lower than Sweden's (and Israel's, and Italy's...)

Entrepreneurship is still a bit of a blurry area of economic research, and (as you'll soon see) using different standards to measure it can yield radically different results. But one popular approach among economists is to count how many new businesses with paid employees start up each year, then divide them by the number of companies that are already up and running. The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, an international research outfit that specializes in side-by-side comparisons between different economies, calls this percentage the "employer enterprise birth rate." Others just call it the start-up rate. But whatever you name the measure, the United States scores fairly low on it. We're second to last, for instance, on the OECD graph below, which looks at the years 2007 through 2009.

But hey, at least we beat Canada.

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