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The happy artist? An empirical application of the work-preference model

  • Lasse Steiner
  • Lucian Schneider
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    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.

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    File URL: http://www.econ.uzh.ch/static/wp/econwp037.pdf
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    Paper provided by Department of Economics - University of Zurich in its series ECON - Working Papers with number 037.

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    Date of creation: Oct 2011
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    Handle: RePEc:zur:econwp:037
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    1. 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, 05.
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    3. 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.
    4. Withers, Glenn, 1985. "Artists' Subsidy of the Arts," Australian Economic Papers, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 24(45), pages 290-95, December.
    5. Victor A. Ginsburgh, 2003. "Art markets," Chapters, in: A Handbook of Cultural Economics, chapter 4 Edward Elgar.
    6. Rosen, Sherwin, 1981. "The Economics of Superstars," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 71(5), pages 845-58, December.
    7. Victor Ginsburgh, 2001. "Economics of arts and culture," ULB Institutional Repository 2013/1869, ULB -- Universite Libre de Bruxelles.
    8. 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.
    9. 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, 07.
    10. repec:cup:cbooks:9780521586399 is not listed on IDEAS
    11. Clark, Andrew E., 2001. "What really matters in a job? Hedonic measurement using quit data," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 8(2), pages 223-242, May.
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