Cultural employment (cult_emp)

Reference Metadata in Euro SDMX Metadata Structure (ESMS)

Compiling agency: Eurostat, the Statistical office of the European Union

Eurostat metadata
Reference metadata
1. Contact
2. Metadata update
3. Statistical presentation
4. Unit of measure
5. Reference Period
6. Institutional Mandate
7. Confidentiality
8. Release policy
9. Frequency of dissemination
10. Accessibility and clarity
11. Quality management
12. Relevance
13. Accuracy
14. Timeliness and punctuality
15. Coherence and comparability
16. Cost and Burden
17. Data revision
18. Statistical processing
19. Comment
Related Metadata
Annexes (including footnotes)

For any question on data and metadata, please contact: EUROPEAN STATISTICAL DATA SUPPORT


1. Contact Top
1.1. Contact organisation

Eurostat, the Statistical office of the European Union

1.2. Contact organisation unit

F1: Social indicators - Methodology and development, relations with users

1.5. Contact mail address

2920 Luxembourg LUXEMBOURG

2. Metadata update Top
2.1. Metadata last certified 12/06/2020
2.2. Metadata last posted 27/07/2022
2.3. Metadata last update 27/07/2022

3. Statistical presentation Top
3.1. Data description

Culture statistics cover many aspects of economic and social life. According to the Europe 2020 strategy, the role of culture is crucial for achieving the goal of a ""smart, sustainable and inclusive"" growth.

Statistics on cultural employment show the contribution of cultural employment to the overall employment and present different characteristics of persons employed in this field of economy. It should be specified that cultural employment refers only to the main job of the workers.


Cultural employment statistics are derived from the data collected by the European Labour Force Survey (see EU-LFS metadata). The EU-LFS is the main source of information about the situation and trends on the labour market in the European Union. 

All the cultural employment data published in the tables have been compiled by Eurostat using the calculation and estimation method described in section 18.5, in particular as concerns the available levels of NACE and ISCO codes. As a result, in some cases, slight differences between data published by Eurostat and data calculated at national level may appear.

The final report of the European Statistical System Network on Culture (ESS-net Culture final report 2012, in particular pp. 129-226) deals with the methodology to be applied to cultural statistics, including the scope of the 'cultural economic activities' and 'cultural occupations', based on two reference classifications:

  • the NACE classification (‘Nomenclature générale des Activités économiques dans les Communautés Européennes’) which classifies the employer’s main activity, and
  • the ISCO classification (‘International Standard Classification of Occupations’) which classifies occupations.

Results from the EU-LFS, obtained by cross-tabulating ISCO and NACE cultural codes, allow to characterize cultural employment by some core social variables (sex, age, educational attainment) and by selected labour market characteristics (self-employment, full-time work, permanent jobs and persons with one job only).

In 2016, an extension of the cultural scope was agreed upon by the Eurostat Working Group 'Culture statistics' and implemented after in cultural employment statistics for reference years 2011 onwards.


• Note, the publication ""Culture statistics - 2016 edition"" was based on the previous scope.

3.2. Classification system

The classifications used to produce statistics on cultural employment are: NACE Rev.2 for economic activity (sector of employment), ISCO-08 for occupation, and ISCED 2011 for educational attainment level.

3.3. Coverage - sector

Cultural employment statistics cover all economic sectors and occupations relevant for culture, as defined by the ESSnet-Culture and the Eurostat Working Group 'Culture statistics'.

3.4. Statistical concepts and definitions

The ESS-net Culture final report 2012 proposes the combination of two different - but equally important - approaches of the cultural employment: on the one hand, it covers employment pertaining to economic activities in the cultural domain, and, on the other, it examines employment in cultural occupations. The definition of cultural employment refers then to all persons employed having either a cultural profession, or working in the cultural sector.

It should be reminded that the concept of employment used in the EU-LFS comprises persons aged 15 years and more who were in one of the following categories:

  • persons who during the reference week worked for at least one hour for pay or profit or family gain.
  • persons who were not at work during the reference week but had a job or business from which they were temporarily absent.


Cultural employment is defined by crossing two classifications: NACE (economic activities) and ISCO (occupations). As shown in Figure 1 below, every person working in a cultural sector should be taken into account, whether her/his occupation is cultural (part I in Figure 1) or not (part III). Similarly, any cultural occupation should enter in the cultural employment statistics, even if exercised in non-cultural activities (part II, e.g. a designer in the automobile industry). Therefore, cultural employment is measured by the sum I+II+III.


Figure: Cultural employment at the intersection of NACE and ISCO classifications

    Economic activities (NACE)
    Cultural Non-cultural
Occupations (ISCO) Cultural I II
Non-cultural III IV


Main concepts concerning employment in general are coming from the EU-LFS methodology: see for example the EU-LFS dedicated section or the Statistics explained articles.

3.5. Statistical unit

Cultural employment data and indicators relate to individuals aged 15 years and more.

3.6. Statistical population

The EU-LFS results cover the total population usually residing in Member States, except for persons living in collective or institutional households. Questions relating to labour market status are restricted to persons in the age group '15 years or older'. 

For more details and exceptions, please consult the EU-LFS (Statistics Explained) - Methodology and the related glossary, as well as the relevant dedicated section.

3.7. Reference area

EU Member States, EFTA countries (except for Liechtenstein), the United Kingdom, Candidate Countries (Montenegro, North Macedonia, Serbia and Turkey). Data for Cyprus refer only to the areas of Cyprus controlled by the Government of the Republic of Cyprus. Since 2014, data for France include also the French overseas departments (Guadeloupe, Martinique, Guyane, La Réunion), with the exception of Mayotte.

3.8. Coverage - Time

Statistics on the aggregate 'Cultural employment' cover data from 2011 onwards.

3.9. Base period

Not applicable.

4. Unit of measure Top

Cultural employment data are presented in thousands of persons and as percentages of given populations, e.g. percentages of cultural employment for variables used for analysis (sex, age, etc.).

5. Reference Period Top

Annual estimates of cultural employment are derived from the annual data of the EU-LFS survey.

The EU-LFS is designed as a continuous quarterly survey with interviews spread uniformly over all weeks of a quarter. The reference week starts on Monday and ends on Sunday. By convention, the first week of the year is the week including the first Thursday, and the 1st reference quarter consists of 13 consecutive weeks starting from that week. 

Annual data encompass the four reference quarters in the year and correspond to quarterly results averaged through the year.

6. Institutional Mandate Top
6.1. Institutional Mandate - legal acts and other agreements

The EU-LFS is based on European legislation since 1973. It's implementation is governed by legislative acts of the Council and Parliament, as well as of the Commission. The principal legal act is the Council Regulation (EC) No. 577/98 with provisions on design, survey characteristics and decision making processes.


The implementation rules are specified in the successive Commission regulations. For more details on the regulations, please consult EU-LFS (Statistics Explained) - Main features and legal basis.

6.2. Institutional Mandate - data sharing

Not applicable.

7. Confidentiality Top
7.1. Confidentiality - policy

Regulation (EC) No 223/2009 on European statistics (recital 24 and Article 20(4)) of 11 March 2009 (OJ L 87, p. 164), stipulates the need to establish common principles and guidelines ensuring the confidentiality of data used for the production of European statistics and the access to those confidential data with due account for technical developments and the requirements of users in a democratic society.

7.2. Confidentiality - data treatment

Statistical treatment of data derived from EU-LFS is performed with respect of the rules and procedures to guarantee the confidentiality set up for this survey.

8. Release policy Top
8.1. Release calendar

EU-LFS annual results are released at the same time as the fourth quarter (in general in April).

Cultural employment statistics are released within three months after the publication of annual EU-LFS data.

8.2. Release calendar access

Cultural employment statistics are not bound by a release calendar.

8.3. Release policy - user access

In line with the Community legal framework and the European Statistics Code of Practice, Eurostat disseminates European statistics on Eurostat's website respecting professional independence and in an objective, professional and transparent manner in which all users are treated equitably. The detailed arrangements are governed by the Eurostat protocol on impartial access to Eurostat data for users.

9. Frequency of dissemination Top

Cultural employment statistics are published once a year, in general in summer.

10. Accessibility and clarity Top
10.1. Dissemination format - News release

'News release' online is possible from time to time but there is no a fixed calendar for it. 

10.2. Dissemination format - Publications

'Statistics explained' article is updated annually according to the release calendar.

10.3. Dissemination format - online database

Eurobase tables with data on cultural employment are available on

10.4. Dissemination format - microdata access

EU-LFS anonymised microdata are available for research purposes. Please refer to access to microdata.

10.5. Dissemination format - other


10.6. Documentation on methodology

The European Statistical System Network on Culture – Final Report (ESSnet-Culture final report 2012) is the reference document for Eurostat cultural employment statistics. The report refers to another important framework for culture statistics developed by UNESCO — Framework for Cultural Statistics, 2009

In December 2018, the methodological manual on culture statistics Guide to Eurostat culture statistics, 2018 was published.

For a detailed description of methods and concepts used in the frame of the EU-LFS, please consult the EU-LFS (Statistics Explained) - Methodology. For more details and exceptions, please consult the EU-LFS (Statistics Explained) - Data and publication and the related glossary, as well as the relevant dedicated section. Regarding employment specifically, national metadata are also available.

10.7. Quality management - documentation

See section 10.6

11. Quality management Top
11.1. Quality assurance

See EU-LFS metadata.

11.2. Quality management - assessment

For a detailed description of the methods and concepts used, as well as for other documents related to the EU-LFS, please see:

(Statistics Explained) EU-LFS - Methodology (until the 2020 data collection).

(Statistics Explained) EU Labour Force Survey - new methodology from 2021 onwards.

For a detailed descirption of the methods and concepts used for compilation of data on cultural employment, please see Guide to Eurostat culture statistics, 2018.

12. Relevance Top
12.1. Relevance - User Needs

Culture has a variety of implications in the political, social and economic spheres. That is why it became an EU matter since the Maastricht Treaty (the Treaty on the European Union) which entered into force in 1993. According to the Treaty, the EU “shall contribute to the flowering of the cultures of the Member States, while respecting their national and regional diversity and at the same time bringing the common heritage to the fore”.

The article 128 of the Treaty (now article 151), gave culture a place of its own by defining the role of the EU in the cultural field and seting out four main objectives:

-     contributing to the flowering of the cultures of the Member States, whilst respecting their national and regional diversity and at the same time bringing the common cultural heritage to the fore;

-     encouraging contemporary cultural creation;

-     taking the cultural dimension more into account in all Community policies;

-     encouraging cooperation between the Member States and with third countries and international organisations.


The EU supports these objectives through the Creative Europe programme, as well as a number of policy actions set out in the most recent Work Plan for Culture (2019–2022). In this Work Plan, adopted by EU Culture Ministers in December 2018, the main priorities for European cooperation in cultural policy-making are: sustainability in cultural heritage, cohesion and well-being, ecosystem supporting artists, cultural and creative professionals and European content, gender equality and international cultural relations. The design and production of reliable, comparable and up-to-date cultural statistics, which are the basis of sound cultural policy-making, is a cross-sectorial priority of the Work Plan.

12.2. Relevance - User Satisfaction

Eurostat does not carry out regular satisfaction surveys targeted only at users of labour market statistics but a general Eurostat User Satisfaction Survey is carried out every year to collect feedback on the quality of its statistics. The survey is usually addressed to the registered Eurostat users who are mainly students, academic, private users, business government and international organizations.

Development of culture statistics is continuously discussed with the European Commission policy makers (DG 'Education and Culture') and with the representatives of the countries in the Eurostat Working group 'Culture statistics'.

12.3. Completeness

Completeness of cultural employment statsitics depends on the level of details provided by the countries in the EU-LFS regarding ISCO and NACE classifications. Currently countries are requested to provide 2 digits for NACE, and 3 digits for ISCO. Some of them provide more digits on a voluntary basis.

For a satisfactory assessment of cultural employment, 3 digits for NACE and 4 digits for ISCO should be made available by all the countries, otherwise an estimation is given (see Annex 1 "Codification detail level in EU-LFS for NACE and ISCO' below and Annex 3 "Detailed description of the estimation algorithm' in the section 18.5).

Also, data availability depends on fulfilling confidentiality and accuracy requirements. Thus, some indicators may be partially incomplete for some breakdowns.

Annex1: Codification detail level in EU-LFS for ISCO and NACE codes
Annex3: Detailed description of the estimation algorithm

13. Accuracy Top
13.1. Accuracy - overall

The overall accuracy of the EU-LFS data is considered as high. For more details, please see EU-LFS metadata and the latest 'Quality report of the EU-LFS 2018'.


As concerns cultural employment statistics, the accuracy of data is impacted by the availability of detailed codes by NACE and ISCO (the theoretical scope of cultural employment statistics is built of a mix of NACE and ISCO codes). In the EU-LFS, the mandatory level of details is 2-digit for NACE and 3-digit for ISCO. The majority of countries transmit NACE 3-digit and ISCO 4-digit; for the countries with different configuration of details for those two classifications e.g. 2*4, 2*3 or 3*3, the estimations are made based on the data with NACE 3-digit and ISCO 4-digit details, available for other EU countries.


Since 2021, with the introduction of the new Regulation (EU) 2019/1700, also called the Integrated European Social Statistics Framework Regulation (IESS FR), all the countries provide data at 3-digits for NACE.


The information about the NACE codes included in the theoretical scope for culture statistics and NACE codes included in the operational definition applied for compilation based on EU-LFS is available in the Annex 2 below: "NACE Rev.2 codes for culture statistics - theoretical and operational scope in employment data on culture".

Annex 2: NACE Rev.2 codes for culture statistics - theoretical and operational scope in employment data on culture
13.2. Sampling error

Please see EU-LFS metadata.

13.3. Non-sampling error

Please see EU-LFS metadata.

14. Timeliness and punctuality Top
14.1. Timeliness

A common Council regulation ((EC) No 577/98) establishes the timeliness of data transmissions from the National Statistical Institutes to the Member States to Eurostat. This timeliness is 12 weeks after the end of the reference period, and it determines the release of data to users.

14.2. Punctuality

Please refer to EU-LFS metadata.

15. Coherence and comparability Top
15.1. Comparability - geographical

Please see EU-LFS metadata.

For cultural employment, the comparability of data is influenced by the availability of data at the most detailed NACE (3 digits) and ISCO (4 digits) levels. For countries which do not provide data at these detailed levels, estimations are made.  

15.2. Comparability - over time

Breaks in series in data on cultural employment occure in some countries for some reference years.

They are of different kind:

- due to national changes in the LFS data collection (change in survey design, methodology or weighting, please see EU-LFS metadata);

- due to a classification revision (affecting all countries, in principle);

- due specifically to the cultural employment computation algorithm: when a country increases the codification detail of ISCO and NACE codes (number of digits), the accuracy of the cultural employment data is improved;

- due to methodology changes, the break in time series concerned 2021 data for all countries.

For more details, please see Annex 5: "Inventory of breaks in series".


BREXIT: New EU-27_2020 aggregate

Due to the withdrawal of the United Kingdom (UK) from the European Union, a new aggregate, (EU-27_2020), has been calculated from February 2020 for the entire time series.

Please note that after the withdrawal of the United Kingdom (UK) from the European Union on 31 January 2020, not only the new EU aggregate (EU-27_2020) is compiled, but also some slight differences (comparing with data calculated with the UK as EU Member State) are noticed in data for countries missing sufficient NACE and ISCO details, where estimations are done based on countries providing data sufficiently detailed.

For data related to the old aggregate EU-28, please refer to the Dedicated Section on information on data under Cultural employment:



A new Trade and Cooperation Agreement between the European Union and the United Kingdom has been concluded and applies on a provisional basis as from 1 January 2021. It includes a provision on statistical cooperation that foresees the establishment of a specific arrangement (see: Article UNPRO.5.2 on Statistical cooperation).

Until this arrangement on statistical cooperation is established, addressing in particular the scope and means of data transmission, there are changes for the dissemination of UK data by Eurostat, with the exception of cases foreseen in the Protocol on Ireland/Northern Ireland.

This means that until agreement on statistical cooperation is established, Eurostat is no longer disseminating new data for the UK, neither through its database nor in other dissemination products.

In geographical lists, the UK is placed after those third countries with which the EU already has established very close relationships in the field of statistics, EEA/EFTA and Switzerland. 

Existing tools and products, produced before 1 January 2021, are being gradually adapted as new editions are published.

Annex 5: Inventory of breaks in series
15.3. Coherence - cross domain

Please see EU-LFS metadata.

For cultural employment statistics, the EU-LFS is the only data source used as it allows crossing economic activities (via NACE) with occupations (via ISCO).

15.4. Coherence - internal

Please see EU-LFS metadata.

16. Cost and Burden Top

Information not available.

17. Data revision Top
17.1. Data revision - policy

Please see EU-LFS metadata.

17.2. Data revision - practice

As concerns data revisions of the EU-LFS in general, please consult EU-LFS (Statistics Explained) - Data and publication.


Cultural employment data are updated and released once a year. Therefore, all the revisions affecting the source data between the successive rounds of updates of cultural indicators (year t and year t+1) are taken into account in the round of updates t+1.

Annex 4 below lists the major revisions of LFS data impacting the results for cultural employment.

Annex 4: Revisions occurred in primary LFS data between January 2021 and July 2022

18. Statistical processing Top
18.1. Source data

The EU-LFS data are used as an input to compute cultural employment statistics.

For more information, please consult the EU-LFS metadata.

18.2. Frequency of data collection

Since early 2000's, the LFS survey has quarterly periodicity, previously it was an annual survey run in spring. Since the survey became quarterly, it includes both quarterly variables and annual variables (i.e. collected only once a year).

The statistics on cultural employment are based on annual averages of quarterly data and are released once a year.

18.3. Data collection

Data is acquired by interviewing the sampled individuals directly. At least three modes of data collection are used in national LFS: personal visits, telephone interviews and web interviews. More than half of the participating countries conduct the first wave always or mainly via personal visit, while subsequent waves are done by telephone, if available.

Most countries conduct the interview only with computerized questionnaires, six use both computerized and paper questionnaires and two countries rely solely on paper questionnaires.

For more information please consult the corresponding LFS quality reports.

18.4. Data validation

Prior to the dissemination of transmitted national LFS data, Eurostat checks the data quality and consistency.

Data on cultural employment are also checked and validated for their internal and external consistency before publishing.

18.5. Data compilation

Cultural employment: General overview

The statistical concept of cultural employment is derived from the methodology proposed by the European Statistical System (ESS) Network on Culture in the ESSnet-Culture final report (2012).

As the ESSnet-Culture final report explains, one can speak of 'cultural employment' in three types of situation (see Figure 2):

  • member of the workforce (a) hold a cultural occupation and (b) work in the cultural sector (e.g. a ballet dancer employed by a ballet company or a journalist working for a daily newspaper) — field I;
  • member of the workforce hold a cultural occupation outside the cultural sector (e.g. a designer in the automobile industry) — field II.
  • member of the workforce hold a non-cultural occupation in the cultural sector (e.g. an accountant in a publishing house) — field III.


Figure: Cultural employment at the intersection of NACE and ISCO classifications

    Economic activities (NACE)
    Cultural Non-cultural
Occupations (ISCO) Cultural I II
Non-cultural III IV

 Cultural employment is therefore measured by the sum I+II+III in Figure 2.


A list of all NACE and ISCO codes to be taken in cultural scope was suggested by the ESSnet Culture final report (2012) and referred to the most refined levels of the classifications (4 digits for NACE and 4 digits for ISCO). However, every ISCO or NACE code was not simply either fully cultural, or not culture-related at all. There were some codes which represented partially cultural occupations or economic activities at this lowest level of disaggregation (e.g. NACE 73.11 Advertising agencies or ISCO 1222 Advertising and public relations managers).

To cope with the constraints in application of this definition to available data sources and also for the reason of harmonisation of the European scope with UNESCO framework for culture, the Working Group Culture Statistics amended recently the list and proposed the reclassification of some codes with partly cultural content.

Thus the current theoretical definition used by Eurostat for compilation of employment but also business statistics identifies the number of NACE and ISCO codes which are fully cultural at the lowest 4-digit level of classifications (see Annex 2 under the point 13.1).


However, the source of data for cultural employment — EU-LFS database managed by Eurostat — contains maximum 3 digits for NACE and 4 digits for ISCO. Taking into account this limitation in EU-LFS, the methodology and calculation algorithm for derivation of data on cultural employment was built on the optimal configuration of 3-digit of NACE and 4-digits of ISCO and according to the conceptual cultural matrix NACE*ISCO as exposed in the figure 2.

It must be noted that some adjustments had to be done in the algorithm because among the NACE 3-digit codes retained for the definition some are composed of codes fully cultural (e.g. NACE 59) and some comprise not-cultural elements. This is the case e.g. of NACE 58.2 'Software publishing' containing cultural code 58.21 'Publishing of video games' and not cultural code 58.29 'Other software publishing'. Calculation and application of 'average cultural shares' in the partly cultural categories, appeared to be a complex task because tailored estimations for each country would represent additional workload for national providers. For our example, following the conservative approach and based on the analysis of the contribution of not-cultural NACE 4-digit economic activities to the code 58.2, this code was excluded from the operational scope applied for cultural employment based on the EU-LFS data.

The complete list of the codes in theoretical and operational definition used for compilation of data based on EU-LFS is provided in the Annex 2 in the point 13.1.


A second difficulty in the design of the algorithm was the level of detail (i.e. the number of digits of the NACE and ISCO codes) provided by countries: in the current EU-LFS Regulation, the minimum requirement is two digits for NACE and three digits for ISCO. Fortunately, most countries (26 for reference year 2019) provide more detail (three digits for NACE, four for ISCO). Such detailed data make it possible to calculate cultural employment accurately. For the other countries presenting different combinations of digits by NACE*ISCO ( i.e. 2*3, 2*4 and 3*3), cultural employment is estimated by using the coefficients calculated for countries providing the highest level of detail (list of countries according to NACE*ISCO availability profile is available in the Annex 1 under point 12.1).

For example, the ISCO code 35.2 'Telecommunications and broadcasting technicians' includes fully cultural occupations 35.21 (Broadcasting and audio-visual technicians) as well as non-cultural occupations 35.22 (Telecommunications engineering technicians). Only the 35.21 part should intervene when computing cultural employment statistics. As a result, the cultural part of ISCO code 35.2 may be assessed through the ratio 35.21/(35.21+35.22) observed in all EU countries providing 4-digit of ISCO.

A detailed description of the conceptions of coefficients which depend also on the place of the code in the matrix, is provided in Annex 5 "Detailed computation algorithm for cultural employment".


As a result, the proposed methodology is conservative and tends to underestimate the values for two reasons: exclusion of partly cultural NACE 3-digit codes and estimation of values for countries with different than 3*4 profile. However, it has to be noted that all workers in partly cultural detailed NACE3D/ISCO4D categories are not systematically excluded, due to the cross-tabulation method. For example, workers having a partly cultural occupation code are actually included in the cultural employment if they are also employed in a cultural sector.

Annex 3: Detailed computation algorithm for cultural employment
18.6. Adjustment

The EU-LFS annual results of quarterly variables are produced as simple averages of the quarterly results. Instead annual results of annual variables are derived directly.

Please refer also to point 18.5 and  Annex 3 "Detailed computation algorithm for cultural employment".

19. Comment Top

No notes.

Related metadata Top
lfst_hh_esms - Households statistics - LFS series
lfsq_esms - LFS series - detailed quarterly survey results (from 1998 onwards)

Annexes Top
Annex 1: Codification detail level in EU-LFS for ISCO and NACE codes
Annex 2: NACE Rev.2 codes for culture statistics - theoretical and operational scope in employment data on culture
Annex3: Detailed description of the estimation algorithm
Annex 4: Revisions occurred in primary LFS data between January 2021 and July 2022
Annex 5: Inventory of breaks in series