Rural enterprises play an important economic role, contributing to national prosperity and wellbeing but are often a blind spot within rural development and wider economic policies and evidence. This paper presents an urban-rural analysis of a large scale survey of Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs). It applies Propensity Score Matching to allow for an assessment of the effects of rurality on business performance. Results show that England's rural firms have similar levels of turnover to their urban counterparts, but are more likely to report a profit. The analysis also reveals rural firms to be significantly stronger exporters of goods and services and to have goods or services suitable for exporting. However, there are some weaknesses and obstacles to business success that concern significantly more rural than urban firms, that vary with the rurality of local districts, and which require the attention of policy makers and support providers seeking to achieve spatially-balanced and more equitable economic development.
Bibliographical noteThis is an open access article under the CC BY license
FunderThis work was supported by the Economic and Social Research Council, Impact Acceleration Account [Grant Ref: ES/M500513/1, Newcastle University, United Kingdom], the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS), United Kingdom, and the Enterprise Research Centre (ERC), United Kingdom.
- Urban-rural businesses
- Business performance
- Propensity score matching