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Number of entrepreneurs

Number of entrepreneurs

The BBCE and Atlas make available for the first time a total count of all entrepreneurs 1851-1911 in the censuses, and differentiates them into employers and own account. The Atlas maps give this for each RSD. The BBCE database allows each person to be identified individually.

Map Map

[Number of entrepreneurs by RSDs in E&W, parishes in Scotland: Source: BBCE]

The tables here give the total for the whole country:

Year Employers Own account Workers Total employers and own account Total economically occupied
1851 446 704 6,422 1,150 7,572
1861 451 711 7,066 1,162 8,229
1871 BBCE data only for 277,000 business proprietors, mainly those giving workforces
1881 536 953 9,517 1,489 11,006
1891 584 1,073 10,338 1,657 11,995
1901 593 1,236 11,988 1,830 13,818
1911 742 1,138 14,149 1,879 16,028

[Source: BBCE tabulations, England and Wales 000s]

Year Employers Own account Workers Total employers and own account Total economically occupied
1851 87 120 981 206 1,187
1861 84 140 1,060 224 1,287
1871 86 144 1,172 230 1,402
1881 97 140 1,334 237 1,571
1891 957 166 1,445 261 1,706
1901 106 189 1,672 295 1,968
1911 130 174 1,637 304 1,941

[Source: BBCE tabulations, Scotland 000s; 1911 from published]

Note that these aggregate counts do not perfectly align with some other researchers (such as Feinstein, Mitchell, or Lee) because definitions vary on what constitutes an entrepreneur, on extent of inclusion of nationalised industries, municipal enterprises and utilities; some researchers count the unemployed among the economically active; there remain ambiguities of how retired and part-time are accounted for; and previous research has not had the individual census records available which now allow new controls on the definitions used.

The census data require various levels of processing to achieve an aligned dataset that is fully representative, and matches modern definitions of entrepreneurship. This is akin to the post-survey processing that a modern census has to undergo before it gives robust results. The main challenges are post-survey processing to manage non-responses to the relevant census questions 1891-1911, data supplementation for responses to the census questions 1851-1881 because the precise formulation of the questions changed. The loss of data from TNA archives also has to be managed, which leads to mismatches between BBCE and I-CeM digital versions and the published tables used by previous researchers (see WP 23). This affects all years, but primarily 1851 and 1861, and to a lesser extent 1901. Comparisons with published for 1891-1911 are given in a Business History paper Table 3, and for 1851-81 in WP 9. There are alternative ways of dealing with these challenges; the methods used in BBCE are fully transparent and can be replicated or adjusted by others: England and Wales and Scotland.