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The Importance of Culture To the Well-Being of Societies John Gordon Culture and Art-related Activities OECD Statistics Directorate Measuring Well-being and Societal Progress OECD/ CRELL-JRC Workshop Milan, June 19, 2006 Culture Statistics at the OECD New special project

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The Importance of Culture To the Well-Being of SocietiesJohn GordonCulture and Art-related ActivitiesOECD Statistics DirectorateMeasuring Well-being and Societal ProgressOECD/CRELL-JRC WorkshopMilan, June 19, 2006

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Culture Statistics at the OECD

  • New special project

  • Economic Importance of Culture

  • Funded by a voluntary contribution from the Louise T. Blouin Foundation

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What is Culture?

  • Anthropological

    Culture is learned as a child and as children we learned from those around us a particular set of rules, beliefs, priorities and expectations that moulded our world into a meaningful whole. That is culture.

    Ruth Benedict in Patterns of Culture

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A Holistic View of Culture

Source: D. Paul Schafer: Revolution or Renaissance

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Artistic Culture of Particular Interest

  • Ability to Reflect

  • Ability to Focus

  • Ability to Look across time

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Breadth of Impact

“The Impacts and significance of the arts and culture - as part of a continuum and ecosystem of creativity and innovation – are now widely understood to reach far beyond intrinsic values and touch on matters . . . such as social cohesion, economic innovation, regeneration, the creative and knowledge economy, inward investment strategies, tourism and quality of life.”

International Intelligence on Culture & Cultural Capital Ltd. & Partners

for Honk Kong Arts Development Council

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Economic Connections

  • Direct GDP Contribution of Culture Industries and Culture Institutions

  • Culture Tourism

    • Visit to Milan in order to attend La Scala

  • Culture Enhanced Tourism

    • 62% of tourists to France chose France after seeing the country in a film

  • Culture Influenced Decisions

    • Choice of business location because of cultural amenities

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Does the Connection Go beyond Economics?

  • A healthy GDP

    - requires –

  • A productive workforce

    - which requires –

  • A healthy social environment

    - which requires –

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Societal Wellbeing

  • What is it ?

  • Can we measure it ?

  • Do we need decision-making models that go beyond classical economics ?

  • Would the problems related Sustainable Development (for example) be less severe if a different decision model had been used ?

  • Are other models available ?

  • What would they look like ?

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Some Measures of Wellbeing

  • Life expectancy

  • Ratio of days of peace to days of conflict

  • Suicide rates

  • Social cohesiveness

  • Bhutan Index of Happiness

  • Health and vitality of arts & culture

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Potential Indicators

  • Outputs / GDP / Jobs

  • Balance-of-trade in culture products and services

  • Government / Private sector funding

  • Diversity – in multiple dimensions

  • Local control of policies and practices

  • Domestic creation and production

  • Shelf space for domestic culture – access

  • Citizen participation in cultural activities

  • Social Cohesion - Identity

  • Balance – Society-wide composite indicator

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Quantitative Measures

  • Define the scope of inclusion

    • Clearly understood

    • Standard classifications

  • Sufficient level of detail

  • Measurable

  • Policy relevant

  • Internationally comparable

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The Culture* Sector's Share

  • Culture Contribution to GDP

    • Australia 3.3% (1998)

    • Canada 3.8% (2001)

    • UK 5.0 – 7.8% (2003)

  • Culture Portion of Labour Force

    • Australia 4.8% (2001)

    • Canada 3.7% (2002)

    • France 3.4% (2002)

    • UK 4.3 – 6.4% (2004)

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The Pesky *

  • Classification Standards

    • ISIC


    • NAICS

    • UK SIC

    • NACE

  • Even when separate classes exist, they not always in the same place in the structure

    e.g., Australia: Antique sales in with Museums

  • Very often only part of a class applicable

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The Pesky * (2)

  • Some areas not always present

    • Advertising

    • Crafts

    • Design

    • Arts education

    • Festivals

    • Software, computer games

    • Religion

    • Sports

    • Tourism

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What We Know So Far - Negative

  • Culture not is well served by most existing standard classifications

  • National Accounts often lack sufficient detail

  • Significant secondary cultural activity – both industry and occupation

  • Volunteer activity not captured

  • Non-homogeneous activity and small isolated pockets require large samples/census

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What We Know So Far - Positive

  • Considerable interest in many countries

  • A growing number of national frameworks

  • Broad agreement on major categories

  • Some satellite accounts do exist

  • Data/statistics are being produced

  • OECD prepared to become a player

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What’s Still to Come

  • More data extractions and “harmonisation”

  • Occupation standards

  • Product classifications

  • Non-economic indicators

    People don't necessarily get involved with culture for economic reasons therefore we should not expect to get a full measure of a culture’s importance using economic indicators alone.

  • International Workshop

    Paris: December 4-5, 2006

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Preliminary Themes

  • Economic data/statistics, reliability, relevance to informing policy, comparability

  • Problems with classification structures, lack of sufficient detail, impurities, allocation factors, satellite accounts.

  • Social indicators of the health and vitality of the arts/culture sector. Measures of social cohesiveness, balance, . . . 

  • Linkages: culture - wellbeing - environment - productivity -economy

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Thank You

John Gordon

Culture and Art-related Activities

Statistics Directorate



Tel: +33 (0)1 45 24 14 74

E-mail: [email protected]

[email protected]