nep-cul New Economics Papers
on Cultural Economics
Issue of 2020‒02‒24
three papers chosen by
Roberto Zanola
Università degli Studi del Piemonte Orientale

  1. The Origins of Creativity: The Case of the Arts in the United States since 1850 By Karol J. Borowiecki
  2. Information Saturation and Preferences for Simpler Products: An analysis of song lyrics from half a century of popular music in the U.S. By Varnum, Michael E. W. PhD; Krems, Jaimie; Morris, Colin; Grossmann, Igor
  3. Drivers of Cultural Participation of Immigrants: Evidence from an Italian Survey By Bertacchini, Enrico; Venturini, Alessandra; Zotti, Roberto

  1. By: Karol J. Borowiecki (Department of Business and Economics, University of Southern Denmark, Odense, Denmark)
    Abstract: This research illuminates the historical development 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 rst 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 education plays a signi cant role for taking up a creative occupation. Second, the study systematically documents and quanti es the geography of creative clusters in the United States and explains how these have evolved over time and across creative domains. Third, it investigates the importance of outstanding talent in a discipline for the local growth of an artistic cluster.
    Keywords: Creativity, artists, geographic clustering, agglomeration economies, urban history
    JEL: R1 N33 Z11
    Date: 2019–03
  2. By: Varnum, Michael E. W. PhD (Arizona State University); Krems, Jaimie; Morris, Colin; Grossmann, Igor (University of Waterloo)
    Abstract: Building on theorizing in economics, cognitive science, and cultural evolution, we suggest that changes in product complexity are associated with shifts in their volume: Greater within-domain volume of products facilitates evolution toward simpler products. To test this Cultural Compression Hypothesis (CCH), we focused on complexity in one unique type of cultural product -- popular music -- over a period of six decades (N = 14,661 songs). Volume of produced music predicted greater lyrical simplicity of successful songs. This relationship was highly robust. It was observed across three measures of music production volume, and held when controlling for critical socioecological and demographic factors (e.g., pathogen prevalence, climatic stress, unemployment, armed conflict, immigration, residential mobility). The cross- temporal association between music production and lyrical simplicity held when (1) accounting for autocorrelation within the time series by adjusting significance thresholds to account for autocorrelations, (2) when residualizing out the monotonic effect of time, and (3) when explicitly modelling autocorrelation using the auto.ARIMA algorithm. Finally, forecasting models suggest that growth in music volume will continue to contribute toward the trend of increasing lyrical simplicity in popular music over the next several decades. We discuss implications of these findings for cultural evolution and social change.
    Date: 2019–12–10
  3. By: Bertacchini, Enrico; Venturini, Alessandra (University of Turin); Zotti, Roberto (University of Turin)
    Abstract: The paper aims to explore the drivers of immigrants' participation to cultural and leisure activities in host countries. First, we discuss how the main analytical approaches on cultural participation can be extended to incorporate factors specific to migrants' characteristics and behaviour, namely dimensions of proximity to the native population's culture and the level of integration in the host society. Secondly, we investigate migrants' propensity for consumption of cultural and leisure activities using data of a special national survey on Income and Living conditions (2011-2012) on foreign households in Italy. Italy represents an interesting case because it is a recent immigration country, making the analysis particularly suitable for studying the behaviour of first-generation immigrants. Our findings suggest that language proficiency, duration of stay and intention to remain in the host country significantly increase the probability to access various types of leisure and cultural activities. Interestingly, after controlling for standard individual predictors, several dimensions of an immigrant's cultural background and proximity with the culture of the host society still significantly explain variation in cultural participation rates, confirming that cultural differences play a role in migrants' cultural consumption choice.
    Keywords: cultural participation, migrants, cultural proximity, Italy
    JEL: Z11 J15 J61
    Date: 2019–12

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