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The performance of consumers' cooperatives in America

John Pencavel (Economics, Stanford University, Stanford, California, USA)

Journal of Participation and Employee Ownership

ISSN: 2514-7641

Article publication date: 29 October 2020

Issue publication date: 3 November 2020




The purpose is to evaluate the performance of consumers' cooperatives in the United States over the last 100 years. This evaluation is based on an overlooked series of surveys undertaken by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics between 1920 and 1950. Where possible, the series are brought up to date.


The surveys did not follow a single consistent organization. Therefore, the observations require rearrangement so that a single meaningful design is achieved.


In a number of instances, consumers' cooperatives have not merely survived but thrived. Indeed, some of their original and continuing methods of operation have been copied and adopted by firms that are not cooperatives.


The series constructed are original and singular. The author knows of no such comparable data.



A refereeā€™s comments improved this paper.


Pencavel, J. (2020), "The performance of consumers' cooperatives in America", Journal of Participation and Employee Ownership, Vol. 3 No. 1, pp. 1-27.



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