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The Happy Artist?: An Empirical Application of the Work-Preference Model

Author

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  • Lasse Steiner
  • Lucian Schneider

Abstract

The artistic labor market is marked by several adversities, such as low wages, above-average unemployment, and constrained underemployment. Nevertheless, it attracts many young people. The number of students exceeds the available jobs by far. A potential explanation for this puzzle is that artistic work might result in exceptionally high job satisfaction, a conjecture that has been mentioned at various times in the literature. We conduct the first direct empirical investigation of artists' job satisfaction. The analysis is based on panel data from the German Socio-Economic Panel Survey (SOEP). Artists on average are found to be considerably more satisfied with their work than non-artists, a finding that corroborates the conjectures in the literature. Differences in income, working hours, and personality cannot account for the observed difference in job satisfaction. Partially, but not fully, the higher job satisfaction can be attributed to the higher self-employment rate among artists. Suggestive evidence is found that superior "procedural" characteristics of artistic work, such as increased variety and on-the-job learning, contribute to the difference in job satisfaction.

Suggested Citation

  • Lasse Steiner & Lucian Schneider, 2012. "The Happy Artist?: An Empirical Application of the Work-Preference Model," SOEPpapers on Multidisciplinary Panel Data Research 430, DIW Berlin, The German Socio-Economic Panel (SOEP).
  • Handle: RePEc:diw:diwsop:diw_sp430
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    File URL: http://www.diw.de/documents/publikationen/73/diw_01.c.392826.de/diw_sp0430.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Bruno S. Frey, 2008. "Happiness: A Revolution in Economics," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262062771, January.
    2. Kristensen, Nicolai & Johansson, Edvard, 2008. "New evidence on cross-country differences in job satisfaction using anchoring vignettes," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 15(1), pages 96-117, February.
    3. Ada Ferrer-i-Carbonell & Paul Frijters, 2004. "How Important is Methodology for the estimates of the determinants of Happiness?," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 114(497), pages 641-659, July.
    4. J.J. Ehrhardt & W.E. Saris & R. Veenhoven, 2000. "Stability of Life-satisfaction over Time," Journal of Happiness Studies, Springer, vol. 1(2), pages 177-205, 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. Withers, Glenn, 1985. "Artists' Subsidy of the Arts," Australian Economic Papers, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 24(45), pages 290-295, December.
    7. Anna Cristina D'Addio & Tor Eriksson & Paul Frijters, 2007. "An analysis of the determinants of job satisfaction when individuals' baseline satisfaction levels may differ," Applied Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 39(19), pages 2413-2423.
    8. Gert G. Wagner & Joachim R. Frick & Jürgen Schupp, 2007. "The German Socio-Economic Panel Study (SOEP) – Scope, Evolution and Enhancements," Schmollers Jahrbuch : Journal of Applied Social Science Studies / Zeitschrift für Wirtschafts- und Sozialwissenschaften, Duncker & Humblot, Berlin, vol. 127(1), pages 139-169.
    9. Adler, Moshe, 1985. "Stardom and Talent," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 75(1), pages 208-212, March.
    10. Maurizio Pugno, 2004. "Rationality and affective motivation: new ideas from neurobiology and psychiatry for economic theory," Department of Economics Working Papers 0401B, Department of Economics, University of Trento, Italia.
    11. Rosen, Sherwin, 1981. "The Economics of Superstars," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 71(5), pages 845-858, December.
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    Cited by:

    1. Lars P. Feld & Sarah Necker & Bruno S. Frey, 2015. "Happiness of economists," Applied Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 47(10), pages 990-1007, February.
    2. Oliver Ibert & Suntje Schmidt, 2014. "Once You Are In You Might Need to Get Out: Adaptation and Adaptability in Volatile Labor Markets—the Case of Musical Actors," Social Sciences, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 3(1), pages 1-23, January.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    job satisfaction; artists; work-preference; cultural economics;

    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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