Statistics Explained

Culture statistics - introduction

Planned article update: September 2020.


This online publication Culture statistics — 2019 edition presents a selection of indicators on culture pertaining to cultural employment, international trade in cultural goods, cultural enterprises, cultural participation and the use of the internet for cultural purposes, as well as household and government cultural expenditure. In addition it presents data on tertiary students in cultural fields of study, learning foreign languages and international tertiary students’ mobility.

Europe is characterised by its wealth and diversity of cultural heritage. Culture has the potential to play an important role in making the European Union (EU) stronger and more democratic, bonding European citizens by providing a sense of identity, while contributing to individual well-being, social cohesion and inclusion. Furthermore, the cultural and creative sectors are increasingly viewed as being drivers of economic growth, especially as a source for job creation. These are just some of the reasons why culture is increasingly seen as being 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 successive work plans for culture (the latest of which cover the periods 2015-2018 and 2019-2022):

  • the Work Plan for Culture (2015-2018), adopted in November 2014, set out a range of priorities for European cooperation in cultural policymaking — inclusive and accessible culture, the promotion of cultural heritage, support to the flowering of the cultural and creative sectors, the promotion of cultural diversity and culture in EU external relations;
  • the Work Plan for Culture (2019-2022), adopted in November 2018, set out five key priorities — sustainability and 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 culture statistics, which are the basis for sound cultural policymaking, is also identified as a priority within both of these work plans. Eurostat compiles statistics on culture from several different data collection exercises. These may be used to provide policymakers and other users with information on the main developments for culture-related education, cultural employment, cultural enterprises, international trade in cultural goods, cultural participation, the use of information and communication technology (ICT) for cultural purposes, as well as household and government expenditure on culture.

The European framework for cultural statistics (based on the 2009 UNESCO framework for cultural statistics) was developed by the European statistical system (ESS) network on culture and presented in ESSnet-CULTURE final report (2012). This network of national experts made methodological recommendations to define and delineate the cultural sphere of influence taking account of various European/international statistical classifications. For example, within the domain of cultural employment the network proposed to develop a new methodological approach to estimate cultural employment by combining information based on the statistical classification of economic activities in the European Community (NACE Rev. 2) with information based on the international standard classification of occupations (ISCO-08).

This 2019 edition of Culture statistics includes the most recent data available from Eurostat’s online database, Eurobase, and is based on the methodology of culture statistics which has been slightly modified in recent years by Eurostat’s working group on culture statistics, as presented in a manual, Guide to Eurostat culture statistics — 2018 edition.

Data presentation

Eurostat online databases contain a large amount of metadata that provide information on the status of particular values or data series. In order to improve readability, only the most significant information has been included in the tables, figures and maps that form part of this publication. The following symbols and conventions are used, where necessary:

Italic data value is forecasted, provisional or estimated and is likely to change;

: not available, confidential or unreliable value;

not applicable

Breaks in series are indicated in the footnotes provided under each table and figure.

Return to the table of contents: Culture statistics — 2019 edition.