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BBCE - The British Business Census of Entrepreneurs


Overview of entrepreneurship

Overview of entrepreneurship

The BBCE and Atlas of Entrepreneurship contain all self-employed people identifiable in the censuses. The entrepreneur is defined broadly to include all individuals who ran businesses from the smallest to the largest. This definition allows understanding of the whole-population, can be aligned with modern definitions, and is supported by comparable data collected now and in the past. This fills two major data gaps. First, it provides the first historical large-scale data for entrepreneurial people at the scale of the whole population for 1851-1911. Second, it allows assessment of historical evolution linked to modern trends: by sector, firm size (measured by employee numbers), corporate directors, sex and other demographic characteristics, and geographic location.

Atlas of Entrepreneurship and Atlas user guide

We provide a definition of entrepreneurs. The following give the Atlas definitions and an overview of business development of the period:

The data downloads on these web pages and maps in the Atlas use I-CeM, BBCE, and BBCE supplemental files linked to Working Papers. The 1851-1881 downloads use NUM method for England and Wales, and IND method for Scotland provided in BBCE; workers are not in BBCE but are in downloads with WP 9 and WP 20. Date for entrepreneurs 1891-1911 are weighted to adjust non-response and misallocation bias (weights with WP 11 and 20); and for 1861 in England and Wales are weighted to adjust for archivally missing records (weights with WP 23). This website's downloads use demographic and spatial data updated from I-CeM. Downloads and graphs for sectors use cleaned occupational data given in BBCE (and cleaned for workers in the supplemental downloads). Only workers for sectors 14-16 are shown, and sector 17 (Rank status, unoccupied) has been omitted. The full contents of 14-16 can be sourced from BBCE if desired. Full definitions of how the data are supplied in the downloads and the Atlas are given in a Supplement to the User Guide.