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Happiness in the arts—International evidence on artists’ job satisfaction


  • Bille, Trine
  • Fjællegaard, Cecilie Bryld
  • Frey, Bruno S.
  • Steiner, Lasse


Many artists are prone to high unemployment and low incomes suggesting low job satisfaction. Our analysis including 49 countries paints a different picture. On average artists enjoy higher job satisfaction than other employees, mainly due to more autonomy.

Suggested Citation

  • Bille, Trine & Fjællegaard, Cecilie Bryld & Frey, Bruno S. & Steiner, Lasse, 2013. "Happiness in the arts—International evidence on artists’ job satisfaction," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 121(1), pages 15-18.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:ecolet:v:121:y:2013:i:1:p:15-18 DOI: 10.1016/j.econlet.2013.06.016

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Tyler Cowen & Alexander Tabarrok, 2000. "An Economic Theory of Avant-Garde and Popular Art, or High and Low Culture," Southern Economic Journal, Southern Economic Association, vol. 67(2), pages 232-253, July.
    2. Oswald, Andrew J., 2008. "On the curvature of the reporting function from objective reality to subjective feelings," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 100(3), pages 369-372, September.
    3. Tremblay, Carol Horton & Grosskopf, Shawna & Yang, Ke, 2010. "Brainstorm: Occupational choice, bipolar illness and creativity," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 8(2), pages 233-241, July.
    4. Bruno S. Frey & Alois Stutzer, 2002. "What Can Economists Learn from Happiness Research?," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 40(2), pages 402-435, June.
    5. Matthias Benz & Bruno S. Frey, 2008. "Being Independent is a Great Thing: Subjective Evaluations of Self-Employment and Hierarchy," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 75(298), pages 362-383, May.
    6. Carroll Haak, 2005. "Künstler zwischen selbständiger und abhängiger Erwerbsarbeit," Schmollers Jahrbuch : Journal of Applied Social Science Studies / Zeitschrift für Wirtschafts- und Sozialwissenschaften, Duncker & Humblot, Berlin, vol. 125(4), pages 573-595.
    7. Lasse Steiner & Lucian Schneider, 2013. "The happy artist: an empirical application of the work-preference model," Journal of Cultural Economics, Springer;The Association for Cultural Economics International, vol. 37(2), pages 225-246, May.
    8. Luechinger, Simon, 2010. "Life satisfaction and transboundary air pollution," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 107(1), pages 4-6, April.
    9. Alper, Neil O. & Wassall, Gregory H., 2006. "Artists' Careers and Their Labor Markets," Handbook of the Economics of Art and Culture, Elsevier.
    10. Haak, Carroll, 2005. "Künstler zwischen selbständiger und abhängiger Erwerbsarbeit," Discussion Papers, Research Unit: Labor Market Policy and Employment SP I 2005-107, Social Science Research Center Berlin (WZB).
    11. Oswald, Andrew J. & Wu, Stephen, 2010. "Objective Confirmation of Subjective Measures of Human Well-being: Evidence from the USA," IZA Discussion Papers 4695, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    12. Boes, Stefan & Staub, Kevin & Winkelmann, Rainer, 2010. "Relative status and satisfaction," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 109(3), pages 168-170, December.
    13. Rosen, Sherwin, 1981. "The Economics of Superstars," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 71(5), pages 845-858, December.
    14. Towse, Ruth, 2006. "Human Capital and Artists' Labour Markets," Handbook of the Economics of Art and Culture, Elsevier.
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    1. repec:bla:kyklos:v:70:y:2017:i:3:p:347-380 is not listed on IDEAS
    2. repec:kap:jculte:v:42:y:2018:i:1:d:10.1007_s10824-016-9278-5 is not listed on IDEAS

    More about this item


    Job satisfaction; Work-preference; Procedural utility; Artists;

    JEL classification:

    • Z10 - Other Special Topics - - Cultural Economics - - - General
    • J24 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Human Capital; Skills; Occupational Choice; Labor Productivity
    • J28 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Safety; Job Satisfaction; Related Public Policy
    • J31 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Wages, Compensation, and Labor Costs - - - Wage Level and Structure; Wage Differentials


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