IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this paper

The Corporate Economies of America and Europe 1790-1860


  • Leslie Hannah

    (CIRJE, University of Tokyo and Department of Economic History, London School of Economics)


Although early corporate data are sparse, the statistics of individual incorporations by special act in 1790-1860 assembled by Sylla and Wright leave no doubt that new creations of corporations proper in the US rapidly outstripped those in France, Prussia and the UK. However, other limited liability entities - notably commandites (with and without shares) - were earlier and numerous in continental Europe and the numbers of extant companies, and particularly their aggregate paid-up share capitals, were closer together in 1860. It was the UK, not the US, which continued to lead corporatization as measured by the ratio of corporate share capital to GDP and it was not until the twentieth century that the US caught up, while both France and Germany lagged. UK corporate business by the midnineteenth century had more capital because of its access to large integrated markets, a rich menu of corporate forms and low interest rates. Thus, while the distinctive feature of US corporations was that they were small and numerous, UK corporations were larger, more capital-intensive, less prone to disappear and had more dispersed ownership.

Suggested Citation

  • Leslie Hannah, 2013. "The Corporate Economies of America and Europe 1790-1860," CIRJE F-Series CIRJE-F-877, CIRJE, Faculty of Economics, University of Tokyo.
  • Handle: RePEc:tky:fseres:2013cf877

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: no

    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Bogart, Dan, 2005. "Did Turnpike Trusts Increase Transportation Investment in Eighteenth-Century England?," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 65(02), pages 439-468, June.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    More about this item

    NEP fields

    This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:


    Access and download statistics


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:tky:fseres:2013cf877. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (CIRJE administrative office). General contact details of provider: .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.