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Making Sense of the Numbers: Estimating Arts Participation in America


  • Steven J. Tepper

    (Princeton University)


This article explores why estimates of arts participation in America diverge dramatically. It focuses on two similar surveys - the General Social Survey (GSS) and the Survey of Public Participation in the Arts (SPPA) - that produced very different estimates of attendance at museums, classical music concerts and dance performances. Comparing the design of each survey, this paper examines several possible explanations to account for the divergent estimates, including sample composition and selection bias, question wording and context, and survey design.

Suggested Citation

  • Steven J. Tepper, 1998. "Making Sense of the Numbers: Estimating Arts Participation in America," Working Papers 57, Princeton University, School of Public and International Affairs, Center for Arts and Cultural Policy Studies..
  • Handle: RePEc:pri:cpanda:4

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Brendan Burchell & Catherine Marsh, 1992. "The effect of questionnaire length on survey response," Quality & Quantity: International Journal of Methodology, Springer, vol. 26(3), pages 233-244, August.
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    More about this item


    General Social Survey; GSS; Survey of Public Participation in the Arts; SPPA;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • Z11 - Other Special Topics - - Cultural Economics - - - Economics of the Arts and Literature


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