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What makes an artist? The evolution and clustering of creative activity in the US since 1850

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  • Borowiecki, Karol Jan
  • Dahl, Christian Møller

Abstract

This research illuminates the historical development and clustering of creative activity in the United States. Census data is used to identify creative occupations (i.e., artists, musicians, authors, actors) and data on prominent creatives, as listed in a comprehensive biographical compendium. The analysis first sheds light on the socio-economic background of creative people and how it has changed since 1850. The results indicate that the proportion of female creatives is relatively high, time constraints can be a hindrance for taking up a creative occupation, racial inequality is present and tends to change only slowly, and access to financial resources within a family facilitates the uptake of an artistic occupation. Second, the study systematically documents and quantifies the geography of creative clusters in the United States and explains how these have evolved over time and across creative domains.

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  • Borowiecki, Karol Jan & Dahl, Christian Møller, 2021. "What makes an artist? The evolution and clustering of creative activity in the US since 1850," Regional Science and Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 86(C).
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:regeco:v:86:y:2021:i:c:s0166046220302994
    DOI: 10.1016/j.regsciurbeco.2020.103614
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    Cited by:

    1. Prieto-Rodriguez, Juan & Vecco, Marilena, 2021. "Reading between the lines in the art market: Lack of transparency and price heterogeneity as an indicator of multiple equilibria," Economic Modelling, Elsevier, vol. 102(C).
    2. Borowiecki, Karol Jan & Graddy, Kathryn, 2021. "Immigrant artists: Enrichment or displacement?," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 191(C), pages 785-797.
    3. Irene Alfarone & Ugo Merlone, 2024. "Should I stay or should I go: A dynamical model of musicians’ agglomeration and migration," Quality & Quantity: International Journal of Methodology, Springer, vol. 58(1), pages 97-116, February.
    4. Karol Jan Borowiecki & Nicholas Martin Ford & Maria Marchenko, 2023. "Harmonious relations: quality transmission among composers in the very long run," European Review of Economic History, Oxford University Press, vol. 27(3), pages 454-476.
    5. Lukas Kuld & Sara Mitchell & Christiane Hellmanzik, 2021. "Manhattan Transfer: Productivity effects of agglomeration in American authorship," Trinity Economics Papers tep0821, Trinity College Dublin, Department of Economics.
    6. Amy Whitaker, 2021. "Economies of scope in artists’ incubator projects," Journal of Cultural Economics, Springer;The Association for Cultural Economics International, vol. 45(4), pages 613-631, December.

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Creativity; Artists; Geographic clustering; Agglomeration economies; Urban history;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • R1 - Urban, Rural, Regional, Real Estate, and Transportation Economics - - General Regional Economics
    • N33 - Economic History - - Labor and Consumers, Demography, Education, Health, Welfare, Income, Wealth, Religion, and Philanthropy - - - Europe: Pre-1913
    • Z11 - Other Special Topics - - Cultural Economics - - - Economics of the Arts and Literature

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