Update 2021: Family Businesses’ Contribution to the U.S. Economy


Family business research in the U.S. and around the world has increased dramatically over time, as the importance of family firms continues to become more and more salient to business school faculty and key decision makers in both industry and politics (Debicki, Matherne, Kellermanns, & Chrisman, 2009). However, with the exception of the study by Astrachan and Shanker (2003), on which we based our current analysis, the actual impact of family businesses on the U.S. economy has been neglected and an up-to-date basis for solid policy decisions has been missing. Our current study addresses and closes this gap and is the first in almost 20 years to explore the impact of family firms on the U.S. economy. We conclude that regardless of the definition used family firms are essential to the prosperity of the United States.


Obtaining reliable information on the number and structure of family businesses has been a considerable challenge to research and practice.

To help calculate new estimators of the distribution of family and non-family businesses in the overall U.S. firm population, one relevant dataset could be obtained (SDBC Dataset).

Since the SBDC dataset was not fully representative of the U.S. firm population and was already somewhat dated, a priori sampling was needed.



Family Businesses employ 83.3 million people, 59% of the private sector workforce

Washington, DC: Family Enterprise USA today announced the publication of a new research project that revisits an unprecedented study on the impact of family businesses’ contributions to the US economy, which was last released in 2003.

“This is a long overdue report that we are grateful to have been able to produce in collaboration with Torsten Pieper, at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte (UNCC) and his dedicated team of researchers, Franz W. Kellermanns, Ph.D., also of UNCC, and Joseph H. Astrachan, Ph.D., Professor Emeritus at Kennesaw State University,” says Patricia Soldano, President of Family Enterprise USA (FEUSA), which provided primary funding for the research.