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Massachusetts Corporations Accounting Data, 1870-1895 and Accountants' Index Publications

Resource Type
Dataset : administrative records data, aggregate data
  • Rosenthal, Caitlin (University of California, Berkeley)
Publication Date
  • Abstract

    This is the replication package for "Balancing the Books: Convergence and Diversity in Accounting, 1875-1895." The late nineteenth century is often described as an era of innovation in managerial practice, including accounting. However, despite rich case studies of individual firms, we have little quantitative knowledge of average practices. This paper uses errors and omissions in balance statements to estimate the prevalence of double-entry bookkeeping and depreciation at Massachusetts corporations between 1875–1895. In 1875, 60 percent of firms balanced their returns, but by 1895 this number exceeded 96 percent. The proportion considering depreciation increased from 18 to 24 percent over the period. Firms using these techniques survived longer on average.

    All tables and graphs except for Figure 4 use the data in the excel sheet titled "Mass Corps Accounting, 1870-1895." The stata do file includes, in order of the paper, code for the relevant tables and figures. Where they were constructed in excel, the do file notes this in the text. Figure 4 uses citation counts from the Accountants' Index, and these as well as how they were obtained are described in the excel file "Figure 4_Topics in the Accountants Index."
Temporal Coverage
  • 1875-01-01 / 1895-12-31
    Time Period: Fri Jan 01 00:00:00 EST 1875--Tue Dec 31 00:00:00 EST 1895 (Nineteenth Century)
Geographic Coverage
  • United States
  • Massachusetts
  • New England
Sampled Universe
Massachusetts corporations, 1875-1895; data collection is yearly for 1875-1881 and periodic for the longer period (1885, 1890, 1895). The spreadsheet also includes some data  for 1871-1874 before the reports took the form of balance sheets. 
Publications listed in the Accountants's Index (1921), paper analysis is for 1800-1900 (some data in spreadsheet for pre 1800 and 1900-1921).

Update Metadata: 2020-07-03 | Issue Number: 1 | Registration Date: 2020-07-03

Rosenthal, Caitlin (2020): Massachusetts Corporations Accounting Data, 1870-1895 and Accountants' Index Publications. Version: 1. ICPSR - Interuniversity Consortium for Political and Social Research. Dataset.