By Torsten M. Pieper, Franz W. Kellermanns, Joseph H. Astrachan & Nina Anique Hadeler

The Importance of Family Businesses’ Contribution to the U.S. Economy

A survey provides some updated figures

Everyone involved with family businesses knows that those businesses are important contributors to the U.S. economy. They provide jobs, pay taxes, take care of their communities and are drivers of innovation not only in the United States but also worldwide. Neither the federal nor state governments track family business status in their economic data. The fact that the government doesn’t collect any data on family businesses in a separate category is troubling for many reasons, not the least of which are the estate tax and pass-through income tax implications of current tax policy for business-owning families.

Joseph H. Astrachan and Melissa Carey Shanker laid the framework for establishing the ability to assess the impact of family businesses on the U.S. economy. The authors updated their framework in a 2003 article, which has since become one of the most cited articles regarding the impact of family businesses on the overall economy.

However, it’s been 18 years since the authors last updated their findings. Accordingly, and with the generous support of Family Enterprise USA, we revisited their framework to assess both the accuracy of the estimators for family and non-family businesses (the estimators) and to update the figures concerning their contributions to the U.S. economy.

Family Enterprise USA advocates for American Family business. We help family businesses communicate their challenges and contributions to American economic freedom to Legislators. We represent all American family businesses; not just specific industries and provide research to enhance the opportunity for success. We help family businesses continue to establish their unique business legacy. Family Enterprise USA is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization.. Family foundations can donate.