Culture statistics - cultural employment
Data extracted in May 2020.
Planned article update: July 2021.
In 2019, there were 7.4 million people in cultural employment across the EU-27 (3.7 % of all employment).
In 2019, in all but three of the EU Member States a majority of people in cultural employment had a tertiary level of educational attainment.
In 2019, the proportion of people who were self-employed in the field of culture in the EU-27 was more than double the average observed for the whole economy.
Cultural employment, 2019
The statistics presented are based on a methodology proposed in the ESSnet-Culture final report (2012). Cultural employment includes all persons working in economic activities that are deemed cultural, irrespective of whether the person is employed in a cultural occupation. It also covers persons with a cultural occupation, irrespective of whether they are employed in a non-cultural economic activity.
Cultural employment is defined in terms of the statistical classification of economic activities in the European Community (NACE Rev. 2) and by the international standard classification of occupations (ISCO). A full list of the economic activities and occupations used to define cultural employment is provided below in the Data sources section.
Cultural employment — overall developments
This article seeks to provide an overview of developments in cultural employment and information on the relative weight of cultural employment in the total employement. The analysis is subsequently extended by looking in more detail at various socioeconomic breakdowns: by age, sex, level of educational attainment, professional status and working time (full-time/part-time). The article closes with a special focus on the employment characteristics of creative and performing artists, authors, journalists and linguists.
Across the EU-27, there were 7.4 million people in cultural employment in 2019
In 2019, there were 7.4 million people across the EU-27 carrying out a cultural activity or having a cultural occupation. This number of persons employed was equivalent to 3.7 % of the total number of persons employed within the whole of the EU-27 economy (see Figure 1).
In 2019, shares of cultural employment in total employment varied from 1.6 % in Romania to over 5.0 % in Malta, Estonia, Luxembourg and Finland (see Figure 1). The EFTA countries of Iceland, Switzerland and Norway each recorded shares of cultural employment that were above the EU-27 average (3.7 %), while all the candidate countries for which data are available — Montenegro, North Macedonia, Serbia and Turkey — recorded shares that were below the EU-27 average.
There was a small but steady increase in EU-27 cultural employment between 2014 and 2019 (see Table 1). In 2019, there were 7.4 million people in cultural employment, 546 thousand more than in 2014, equivalent to an overall increase of 8 %. However, a very small increase was observed in relative terms - cultural employment represented 3.6 % of total employment in 2014 and 3.7 % in 2019, meaning that cultural employment was increasing slightly faster than total employment.
The share of cultural employment in total employment increased between 2014 and 2019 in a majority of the EU Member States: the largest relative increase was recorded in Malta - from 4.5 % to 5.2 %.
Cultural employment by sex, age and educational attainment
The highest proportion of women in cultural employment was recorded in the Baltic Member States
Increasing female labour participation is one of the policy objectives of the European Commission committed to promoting gender equality in the labour market through a mix of legislation, policy guidance and financial support. In 2019, women accounted for a slightly lower share of EU-27 cultural employment than men (47.7 %, see Figure 2). This proportion, however, was higher than the average share of women in employment across the whole of the economy (45.9 %).
The situation was somewhat different among the EU Member States. In 2019, women accounted for a majority of cultural employment in twelve Member States. The Baltic Member States recorded the highest female shares of cultural employment, with a peak of 65 % in Latvia, followed by 61 % in Lithuania and 59 % in Estonia; Luxembourg, Finland, Bulgaria, Sweden, Czechia, Poland, Romania, Croatia and Denmark were the other Member States where women occupied a majority of cultural employment. At the other end of the range, the share of women in cultural employment was the lowest in three southern Member States – Italy, Spain (both accounted for 43 %) and Malta (42 %).
In comparison with the total employment, it was common to find that women accounted for a higher share of cultural employment than their share across the whole economy. This was true in 2019 in all but six of the EU Member States, with women accounting for a much higher proportion of cultural employment — over 10 percentage points more than their overall share of total employment — in the three Baltic Member States. By contrast, the female share of cultural employment was notably lower than the overall share of women in total employment in Spain (3 percentage points less) and Portugal (4 percentage points less).
The share of young workforce (15-29 years-old) in cultural employment varies considerably between the EU Member States
Across the EU-27, 1.3 million young people (aged 15 to 29 years) were working in the field of culture in 2019. They represented 17.1 % of cultural employment, a proportion slightly lower than the average share of all young people working in the whole economy (17.5 %) — see Figure 3.
In most Member States, the percentage of young employed did not exceed 20 % of the overall cultural employment. This share varied from 12 % in Italy and 13 % in Czechia, Greece and Croatia up to 22 % in Denmark and The Netherlands, and 26 % in Malta.
Young people accounted for a higher share of cultural employment than their share of the total employment in ten of the EU Member States. The biggest difference was recorded in Portugal, where the share of young people in cultural employment was 6 percentage points higher than the average share of young people in total employment. By contrast, young people were relatively under-represented in terms of their share of cultural employment in Luxembourg (6 percentage points lower than in total employment) and Croatia (5 percentage points lower).
People with a tertiary level of educational attainment made up a majority of the cultural workforce
In 2019, almost three fifths (59 %) of the EU-27 workforce in the field of culture had a tertiary level of educational attainment (as defined by the international standard classification of education (ISCED) levels 5-8), while only 8 % completed at most a lower secondary level of educational attainment (ISCED levels 0-2). One third (34 %) of the EU-27’s cultural workforce had an upper secondary or post-secondary non-tertiary level of educational attainment (ISCED levels 3-4) — see Figure 4.
One of the most characteristic features of cultural employment is the high percentage of people with a tertiary level of educational attainment.
In 2019, the share of people in the EU-27 working in the field of culture that had a tertiary level of educational attainment (59 %) was considerably higher than the average recorded for the whole economy (34 %) — see Figure 5. In 2019, more than half of all people in cultural employment in 24 of the EU Member States had a tertiary level of educational attainment; the only exceptions were Malta, Czechia and Italy, each of these recording a share within the range of 46-49 %. In Luxembourg, 80 % of all cultural employment was occupied by people with a tertiary level of educational attainment. Shares higher than 70 % were also recorded in Cyprus, Spain, and Belgium.
Some other characteristics of cultural employment
The EU-LFS also provides information for a range of socioeconomic characteristics that may be used to analyse cultural employment in more detail; this next section focuses on two specific areas, namely, self-employment and working time (full-time employment).
Aside from a high propensity to employ people with a high level of educational attainment, cultural employment is also characterised by a relatively high proportion of self-employment, reflecting the independent and specialised nature of many occupations in the cultural sector — for example, authors, performing artists, musicians, painters and sculptors, or crafts people.
Across the EU-27, almost one third (32 %) of the cultural workforce was self-employed in 2019, compared with an average of 14 % for the whole economy (see Figure 6); as such, the relative weight of self-employment in the field of culture was more than twice as high as the average for total employment.
In 2019, the self-employed accounted for almost half of all cultural employment in the Netherlands (47 %) and in Italy (46 %). Among the Member States with shares of cultural self-employment higher than the EU average (32 %), were also Greece (38 %), Czechia (37 %), Ireland and Spain (both 34 %) and Germany (33 %). By contrast, less than one in five persons in cultural employment were self-employed in Estonia (19 %), Croatia and Luxembourg (both 17 %, but note data are of low reliability for Croatia), Bulgaria (16 %) and Romania (14 %).
In Germany, the share of self-employed people working in the field of culture in 2019 was 3.7 times as high as the average across the whole economy. A similar pattern was observed in the Netherlands, Austria, Denmark, France, Sweden and Cyprus, where the share of the self-employed in cultural employment was at least 2.5 times as high as the average recorded for the whole economy. The level of self-employment in cultural employment was higher than the average level of self-employment in the whole economy in 26 of the 27 Member States. The exception in 2019 was only Romania, where self-employment in culture amounted to 14 %, while the average for the whole economy in this country was 17 %.
In 2019, just three quarters (75 %) of the cultural workforce in the EU-27 was employed on a full-time basis, while the share of full-time employment across the whole economy was higher - 81 %.
This is another specific feature of cultural employment - the full-time work concerns fewer people than the average for the economy as a whole. Such a pattern has been observed in almost all Member States, with exceptions of Romania and Belgium; in the Netherlands, these proportions were the same (see Figure 7). The fact that the proportion of people working in the field of culture on a full-time basis was lower than the average share of full-time employment could be explained, at least in part, by a number of cultural jobs being characterized by self-employment/freelancing and job flexibility. This situation may result in job insecurity and considerable variations in income over time.
In 2019, the share of full-time employment in the cultural workforce varied considerably between the EU Member States, from 49 % in the Netherlands to 95 % in Bulgaria and 98 % in Romania. This wide range reflects more general overall differences between national labour markets (importance of part-time work) rather than the specific nature of cultural employment. Despite the large discrepancies mentioned above, only in four Member States (Cyprus, Malta, Finland and Latvia) the gap in full-time work between cultural employment and total employment was of at least 10 percentage points.
In 2019, some 82 % of men in cultural employment worked on a full-time basis compared with an average of 91 % for the whole EU-27 economy. By contrast, the share of women working on a full-time basis in the field of culture was 68 % compared with an average of 69 % for the whole EU-27 economy.
In 2019, the average gender gap for full-time cultural employment in the EU-27 was 14 percentage points (the average for total employment in the EU-27 was 22 percentage points). Romania and Bulgaria were the only Member States in which more women than men were employed full-time in the cultural sector. There was no gender gap concerning full-time work in Croatia, Latvia and Lithuania and it was of only 3 percentage points (in favor for men) in Greece and Portugal.
On the other hand, the Member States with the largest gender gap in full-time cultural employment (over 20 percentage points in favor of men) were Germany, Austria, Malta, and the Netherlands (see Figure 8).
This final section presents information on the employment characteristics for two specific groups of cultural occupations (as distinguished in ISCO-08 classification): creative and performing artists (including visual artists, musicians, dancers, actors, film directors, and so on), and authors, journalists and linguists. These two groups of occupations are hereafter referred to as ’artists and writers’.
There were almost 1 700 000 artists and writers in the EU-27 in 2019, together they accounted for almost one quarter (23 %) of cultural employment. 45 % of all artists and writers in the EU-27 were self-employed (see Figure 9). This percentage was much higher than the average for the whole economy (14 %), and higher than the average for cultural employment (32 %).
62 % of all artists and writers in the Netherlands were self-employed in 2019, and at least a half in the following countries: Italy (60 %), Czechia (58 %), Germany, Ireland (both 53 %), Malta (52 %), and Portugal (50 %). In Germany, the share of artists and writers that were self-employed was almost 6 times as high as the national average for the whole economy; this relation was also high in Sweden (4.4 times as high) and Austria (4.3 times as high). By contrast, Greece was the only EU Member State to record a lower share of self-employment for artists and writers than for the whole economy.
Some 70 % of artists and writers in the EU-27 worked on a full-time basis in 2019, which was lower than the corresponding shares of people working full-time in the field of culture (75 %) or across the whole economy (81 %).
The share of artists and writers working on a full-time basis was generally lower than the national average for total employment across the EU Member States. The only exceptions to this rule were Luxembourg and Romania: however, in these two countries the gap was not as significant as in some other cases where a considerable difference in full-time employment rates was observed. In Cyprus, Malta, Latvia, Portugal and Finland, the share of artists and writers working on a full-time basis was at least 20 percentage points lower than the national average. The lowest share of artists and writers working on a full-time basis was recorded among EU-27 in the Netherlands, where fewer than half (44 %) of all artists and writers worked on a full-time basis. This low share is the result of the specifics of that labour market - the average full-time employment for the whole Dutch economy was 49 % in 2019.
Aside from their main job, some artists and writers have a second job. Table 2 shows that across the whole of the EU-27, a very high majority (96 %) of the workforce held a single job in 2019; this share was lower for artists and writers (89 %). Artists and writers were less likely (than the workforce as a whole) to have a single job and this pattern was repeated in the majority the EU Member States. The share of artists and writers who were single jobholders was more than 10 percentage points below the national average in Estonia, Latvia, Cyprus, France and the Netherlands.
A sign of the precarious nature of employment faced by artists and writers concerns the duration of their work contracts. In 2019, some 85 % of all employees in the EU-27 had a permanent employment contract, while the corresponding figure for artists and writers who were employees was 75 %. This pattern was repeated in the majority of the EU Member States, apart from Luxembourg, Slovakia, Estonia, Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria, Czechia and Malta.
In 2019, less than two thirds of all artists and writers working as employees in Spain (64 %), Portugal (61 %), and France (59 %) had a permanent contract. In France, this share was particularly low when compared with the percentage noted for the whole national economy (84 %); the difference of 25 percentage points was the largest recorded among any of the EU Member States. Relatively large gaps were also observed in Portugal, Belgium, Sweden and Austria, where the share of employee artists and writers with a permanent contract was more than 10 percentage points lower than the national average.
Source data for tables and graphs
The statistical concept of cultural employment is based on methodology proposed by the European Statistical System Network on Culture (see its ESSnet-Culture final report (2012)).
The report defines cultural employment by crossing economic activities (based on the statistical classification of economic activities in the European Community (NACE Rev. 2)) with a set of occupations (using the international standard classification of occupations (ISCO-08)).
Defining cultural employment
As the ESSnet-Culture report notes, cultural employment covers three types of situation (see Figure 10):
- an employed person holds a cultural occupation and works in the cultural sector (for example, a ballet dancer employed by a ballet company or a journalist working for a daily newspaper);
- an employed person holds a cultural occupation outside the cultural sector (for example, a designer who works in the motor vehicles industry);
- an employed person holds a non-cultural occupation in the cultural sector (for example, an accountant working in a publishing house).
Eurostat’s statistics on cultural employment are sourced from the EU’s labour force survey (EU-LFS); the population covered by this survey concerns people aged 15 years or more. Eurostat compiles data on cultural employment according to the field of economic activity in which the employed person works and according to their occupation, using a matrix to create an aggregate for all cultural employment. The data may be analysed at a more detailed level, for example, by looking at socioeconomic breakdowns by sex, by age or by level of educational attainment.
Two lists below include economic activities (NACE Rev. 2) and occupations (ISCO-08) that were used to calculate aggregates for cultural employment using data from the EU-LFS. The information presented relates to the latest definition (revised in 2016, following a decision from the culture statistics working group).
Cultural sectors (economic activities) — NACE Rev. 2
|18||Printing and reproduction of recorded media|
|32.2||Manufacture of musical instruments|
|58.1||Publishing of books, periodicals and other publishing activities|
|59||Motion picture, video and television programme production, sound recording and music publishing activities|
|60||Programming and broadcasting activities|
|74.1||Specialised design activities|
|74.3||Translation and interpretation activities|
|90||Creative, arts and entertainment activities|
|91||Libraries, archives, museums and other cultural activities|
Cultural occupations — ISCO-08
|216||Architects, planners, surveyors and designers|
|2353||Other language teachers|
|2354||Other music teachers|
|2355||Other arts teachers|
|262||Librarians, archivists and curators|
|264||Authors, journalists and linguists|
|265||Creative and performing artists|
|3432||Interior designers and decorators|
|3433||Gallery, museum and library technicians|
|3435||Other artistic and cultural associate professionals|
|3521||Broadcasting and audio-visual technicians|
|7312||Musical instrument makers and tuners|
|7313||Jewellery and precious-metal workers|
|7314||Potters and related workers|
|7315||Glass makers, cutters, grinders and finishers|
|7316||Sign writers, decorative painters, engravers and etchers|
|7317||Handicraft workers in wood, basketry and related materials|
|7318||Handicraft workers in textile, leather and related materials|
|7319||Handicraft workers not elsewhere classified|
Statistics presented in this article are derived from the EU-LFS. This survey requires data to be provided for NACE divisions (two-digit level) and for ISCO minor groups (three-digit level). However, the majority of countries provide more detailed data on a voluntary basis. For countries missing information at NACE three-digit level or/and ISCO four-digits level, the estimation is done using coefficients calculated for countries providing the highest level of detail.
(Under)-estimating cultural employment
When estimating cultural employment, it is difficult to determine what proportion of some economic activities and occupations is genuinely cultural. For this reason, activities and occupations which are only partially cultural were excluded from the estimates. For example, sports, recreation and cultural centre managers (ISCO Unit Group 1431) refers to an occupation with a cultural component; however, it is impossible to estimate the share specifically relating to culture. Therefore, and taking a conservative approach, it was decided to exclude this occupation (and other similar cases) when computing an aggregate for cultural employment.
Moreover, the EU-LFS collects (detailed enough) information on the economic activity and occupation only of the respondent’s main job and therefore omits information pertaining to secondary jobs in the field of culture. As such, these secondary jobs are excluded from the aggregate covering cultural employment.
In view of these limitations and the approach adopted, data on cultural employment are likely to underestimate the true extent of employment in this field.
Within the context of the EU-LFS:
- an employee is defined as an individual who works for a public or private employer and who in return receives compensation in the form of wages, salaries, fees, gratuities, payment by results or payment in kind; professional military are included;
- self-employed persons are those who work in their own business, farm or professional practice, if he/she meets one of the following criteria: works for the purpose of earning profit; spends time on the operation of running a business; is in the process of setting up his/her business;
- part-time employment is that which is not full time — the distinction between full-time and part-time employment is generally based on a spontaneous response by the respondent (the main exceptions are the Netherlands and Iceland where a threshold of 35 hours is applied, Sweden where a threshold is applied to the self-employed, and Norway where respondents working between 32 and 36 hours are asked whether this is a full- or part-time position);
- temporary contracts (in contrast to fixed-term contracts) cover those employees with a post of limited duration (their contract will terminate either after a period fixed in advance, or after a period not known in advance, but nevertheless defined by objective criteria, such as the completion of an assignment or the period of absence of an employee being temporarily replaced) — fixed-term contracts do not apply to the self-employed.
Culture is one of Europe’s greatest assets: it is a source of values, identity and a sense of belonging; it also contributes towards well-being, social cohesion and inclusion. The cultural and creative sectors may also provide a stimulus for economic growth, job creation and international trade.
That is why culture is becoming increasingly important within the EU. In accordance with Article 167 of the Lisbon 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 EU supports these objectives through the Creative Europe programme, as well as a number of policy actions set out in the Work Plan for Culture (2015-2018) and the Work Plan for Culture (2019-2022). The latter, adopted by EU culture ministers in November 2018, sets out the main priorities for European cooperation in cultural policymaking: sustainability in cultural heritage; cohesion and well-being; an ecosystem supporting artists, cultural and creative professionals and European content; gender equality; and international cultural relations.
The production of reliable, comparable and up-to-date cultural statistics, which provide a basis for sound cultural policymaking, is a cross-sectorial priority in the latest work plan. Eurostat compiles culture statistics from several different data collections to provide policymakers and other users with information on the main developments in the field of culture, covering issues such as education, employment, business, international trade, participation and consumption patterns.
- Culture (all Statistics Explained articles on culture)
- Culture, see:
- Cultural employment (cult_emp)
- Cultural employment by sex (cult_emp_sex)
- Cultural employment by age (cult_emp_age)
- Cultural employment by educational attainment level (cult_emp_edu)
- Cultural employment by NACE Rev.2 activity (cult_emp_n2)
- Cultural employment by sex and selected labour market characteristics (cult_emp_wsta)
- Persons working as creative and performing artists, authors, journalists and linguists (cult_emp_art)
- Persons working as creative and performing artists, authors, journalists and linguists by individual and employment characteristics (cult_emp_artpc)
- Cultural employment (cult_emp)
- Labour market (labour), see:
- Employment and unemployment (Labour force survey) (employ)
- LFS series - detailed annual survey results (lfsa)
- Employment - LFS series (lfsa_emp)
- LFS series - detailed annual survey results (lfsa)
- Employment and unemployment (Labour force survey) (employ)
- Guide to Eurostat culture statistics — 2018 edition
- European statistical system network on culture (ESSnet-Culture final report (2012))
- Cultural employment (ESMS metadata file — cult_emp_esms)
- European Council Work Plan for Culture (2019-2022)
- European Council Work Plan for Culture (2015-2018)
- Regulation (EU) No 1295/2013 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 11 December 2013 establishing the Creative Europe programme (2014-2020)
- Summaries of EU Legislation: Creative Europe Programme (2014 to 2020)
- Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament, the Council, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions on a European agenda for culture in a globalising world (COM(2007) 242)