Silicon Valley. The Internet. Smartphones. As the previous century was defined by strength, the 21st century will be defined just as much by cunning. Along with that, the stereotype of the 20-something college dropout entrepreneur is emblazoned in modern pop culture. But wait – make sure you don’t forget the dedicated hoverboard lanes, flat corporate structure, and gluten-free options at the prepared lunch table. Could entrepreneurship be this romantic?

There exists a narrative surrounding the millennial generation as having a propensity towards entrepreneurship unseen since the Industrial Revolution. But data would suggest just the opposite. The share of people under 30 who own a business has fallen 65 percent since the 1980s, and is at a quarter century low. John Lettieri, senior director for policy and strategy at the Economic Innovation Group (EIG), said that Millennials are on track to be the least entrepreneurial generation in recent history.

There are clear-cut statistics on student debt as a contributing factor, but a recent Ernst and Young poll would suggest that this entrepreneurship trend could carry further cultural significance. The poll says that millennials are more inclined towards the idea of entrepreneurship than previous generations, but they choose to apply for jobs instead based on the state of the economy and general concerns about financial security. This might be a starting point to decipher this misconception.

Growing student debt, the recession, and a deteriorating middle class have all had profound impacts on the millennial generation. 51% of people from a Harvard University poll disagreed with the principles of capitalism. However, 30% think the government should do more to reduce income inequality, and just 27% of respondents say the government should have more responsibility when it comes to regulating the government.

According to this data, the Millennial generation believes regulation and social security has a place in society, although the in-depth analysis tells us the consensus role of regulation remains undecided. This would suggest that pure trickle down economics has established itself as a non-viable economic system within this group.

This sentiment heavily contrasts that from just a generation ago, where a 1991 study by the Library of Congress identified Atlas Shrugged as the second most influential book amongst readers, behind only the Bible.

Risk aversion affecting many facets of life

The data paints a picture of a general movement away from risk, and the effects of this are not only seen in declining entrepreneurship. A large delay in other major life events such as home ownership, marriage, and moving out of a parents home could indicate that entrepreneurship will follow the same delayed pattern.

We’ll have to wait and see if this risk aversion turns out to be a responsible characteristic or an economic impediment.