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Households and entrepreneurship in England and Wales, 1851-1911


  • Smith, Harry
  • Bennett, Robert J.
  • van Lieshout, Carry
  • Montebruno, Piero


This article uses the British Business Census of Entrepreneurs (BBCE) to examine the relationship between the household and entrepreneurship in England and Wales between 1851 and 1911. The BBCE allows three kinds of entrepreneurial households to be identified: those where an entrepreneur employs co-resident family members in their business, those where two or more household members are partners in the same firm, and households with two or more entrepreneurs resident who are running different firms. The article traces the number of these different households across the period and examines their sector and gender breakdowns as well as their geographical distribution. The article demonstrates that these different kinds of entrepreneurial households served different purposes; co-resident family businesses were used in marginal areas where other sources of labour and capital were scarce and the incidence of such firms decreased over this period. In contrast, household partnerships and co-entrepreneurial households were used to share risk or diversify; they were found throughout England and Wales at similar levels during this period.

Suggested Citation

  • Smith, Harry & Bennett, Robert J. & van Lieshout, Carry & Montebruno, Piero, 2020. "Households and entrepreneurship in England and Wales, 1851-1911," MPRA Paper 102647, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  • Handle: RePEc:pra:mprapa:102647

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Quentin Outram, 2017. "The demand for residential domestic service in the London of 1901," Economic History Review, Economic History Society, vol. 70(3), pages 893-918, August.
    2. Robert J. Bennett, 2016. "Interpreting business partnerships in late Victorian Britain," Economic History Review, Economic History Society, vol. 69(4), pages 1199-1227, November.
    3. Burnette,Joyce, 2008. "Gender, Work and Wages in Industrial Revolution Britain," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521880633, August.
    4. Bennett, Robert & Montebruno, Piero & Smith, Harry & van Lieshout, Carry, 2018. "Reconstructing entrepreneur and business numbers for censuses 1851-81. Working paper 9," MPRA Paper 103529, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    5. Barker, Hannah, 2017. "Family and Business during the Industrial Revolution," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780198786023.
    6. A. Owens, 2002. "Inheritance and the Life-Cycle of Family Firms in the Early Industrial Revolution," Business History, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 44(1), pages 21-46.
    7. van Lieshout, Carry & Smith, Harry & Montebruno, Piero & Bennett, Robert, 2019. "Female entrepreneurship: business, marriage and motherhood in England and Wales, 1851–1911," MPRA Paper 101452, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    8. Les Hannah, 2014. "Corporations in the US and Europe 1790-1860," Business History, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 56(6), pages 865-899, September.
    9. Nicholas, Tom, 1999. "Clogs to Clogs in Three Generations? Explaining Entrepreneurial Performance in Britain Since 1850," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 59(3), pages 688-713, September.
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    More about this item


    Entrepreneurship; household; census; England and Wales; economic history;

    JEL classification:

    • D1 - Microeconomics - - Household Behavior
    • J1 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics
    • L26 - Industrial Organization - - Firm Objectives, Organization, and Behavior - - - Entrepreneurship
    • N83 - Economic History - - Micro-Business History - - - Europe: Pre-1913

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