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Accounting for Taste: An Examination of Socioeconomic Gradients in Attendance at Arts Events

  • Lunn, Pete


  • Kelly, Elish


We critically examine and empirically test the hypothesis that the strong socioeconomic gradients characterising attendance at arts events result from similar gradients in preferences for the arts, in line with existing theories of demand for the arts derived from orthodox consumer theory. To control for preferences, we use individual measures of stated interest in the arts and reports of viewing and listening habits, as distinct from attendance at live events. These variables are strongly associated with attendance, yet despite their inclusion as covariates within a hierarchical logistic regression analysis, strong and significant socioeconomic gradients remain within the estimated models. While it remains possible that our controls do not capture sufficient variation in preferences for the arts, it appears more likely that the socioeconomic composition of live arts audiences is influenced by other factors in addition to individual preferences for the arts.

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Paper provided by Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI) in its series Papers with number WP283.

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Length: 33 pages
Date of creation: Mar 2009
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:esr:wpaper:wp283
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  1. Luc Champarnaud & Victor Ginsburgh & Philippe Michel, 2008. "Can public arts education replace arts subsidization?," Journal of Cultural Economics, Springer, vol. 32(2), pages 109-126, June.
  2. Victor Ginsburgh & David Throsby, 2006. "Handbook of the Eonomics of Art and Culture," ULB Institutional Repository 2013/152412, ULB -- Universite Libre de Bruxelles.
  3. John W. O'Hagan, 1996. "Access to and Participation in the Arts: The Case of Those with Low Income/Educational Attainment," Economics Policy Papers 961, Trinity College Dublin, Department of Economics.
  4. Francesca Borgonovi, 2004. "Performing arts attendance: an economic approach," Applied Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 36(17), pages 1871-1885.
  5. Becker, Gary S & Murphy, Kevin M, 1988. "A Theory of Rational Addiction," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 96(4), pages 675-700, August.
  6. Seaman, Bruce A, 2006. "Empirical Studies of Demand for the Performing Arts," Handbook of the Economics of Art and Culture, Elsevier.
  7. Throsby, David, 1994. "The Production and Consumption of the Arts: A View of Cultural Economics," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 32(1), pages 1-29, March.
  8. George A. Akerlof & Rachel E. Kranton, 2000. "Economics and Identity," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 115(3), pages 715-753.
  9. Sir Alan Peacock, 2000. "Public financing of the arts in England," Fiscal Studies, Institute for Fiscal Studies, vol. 21(2), pages 171-205, June.
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