Culture statistics - private expenditure on culture

Data extracted in December 2015. Most recent data: Further Eurostat information, Main tables and Database. Planned article update: Article will be updated in February 2019 with the new set of Household Budget survey data.

This article provides an overview of key figures relating to private consumption expenditure on culture-related goods and services.

Data on private expenditure are collected by the Household Budget Surveys (HBSs), with a sufficient level of detail to select cultural items. In addition, Harmonised indices of consumer prices (HICPs) supply information on the evolution of prices of several cultural goods and services. These two types of data give an understanding of private consumption expenditure on culture and thus of cultural participation and — to some extent — access to culture.

Figure 1: Mean household cultural expenditure as a share of total household expenditure, 2010 (1)
Source: Eurostat (cult_pcs_hbs)
Figure 2: Mean household cultural expenditure by income quintile, 2010 (1)
Source: Eurostat (cult_pcs_hbs)
Table 1: Mean household cultural expenditure by expenditure purpose, 2010
Source: Eurostat (cult_pcs_hbs)
Figure 3: Mean household cultural expenditure by expenditure purpose, EU-28, 2010 (1)
Source: Eurostat (cult_pcs_hbs)
Figure 4: Mean household cultural expenditure by broad expenditure purpose, EU-28, 2010 (1)
Source: Eurostat (cult_pcs_hbs)
Figure 5: Household cultural expenditure by broad expenditure purpose, 2010 (1)
(% of total cultural expenditure)
Source: Eurostat (cult_pcs_hbs)
Figure 6: Harmonised indices of consumer prices for selected cultural goods and services, EU-28, 2005–15 (1)
(2005 = 100)
Source: Eurostat (prc_hicp_aind)
Table 2: Harmonised indices of consumer prices of selected cultural goods and services, 2010 and 2015 (1)
(2005 = 100)
Source: Eurostat (prc_hicp_aind)

Main statistical findings

Household cultural expenditure

3.6 % of mean consumption expenditure by EU households in 2010 was devoted to cultural goods and services

According to the latest available HBS data (data for 2015 are being processed and are not yet ready for publication), an estimated 3.6 % of EU [1] private households’ mean consumption expenditure in 2010 was on cultural goods and services (see Figure 1). The proportion varied considerably across Member States: Denmark ranked top with 5.6 % and the lowest proportion was observed in Bulgaria (1.7 %). For 11 Member States, the figure was above the EU average. In Denmark, Sweden and the United Kingdom, it exceeded 5 %, while in Greece and Bulgaria it did not reach 2 % of total household consumption expenditure.

Several factors may lie behind this variability, income and price levels being among the most significant. Another important factor is what culture is on offer; this depends on infrastructure (e.g. the number of cinemas or theatres) and is influenced by national specificities in terms of cultural habits (e.g. how often people go to the theatre).

In terms of expenditure in PPS value, Denmark, Ireland and Austria ranked first in 2010, spending over 1 500 PPS per household on cultural goods and services. At the other end of the scale, with expenditure of 400 PPS or less, are Bulgaria, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Romania. At the same time, these countries recorded the lowest levels of total household consumption, which was accompanied by higher than EU average price indices for several cultural goods and services in 2010 compared with 2005 (see Tables 1 and 2).

Figure 2 shows mean household cultural expenditure analysed by income quintile. In all countries the impact of income on cultural expenditure is clear — higher income, more spending on culture. However, the dispersion of cultural expenditure according to income quintile presents different patterns among Member States. In several countries (Cyprus, Portugal, Estonia, Greece, Lithuania, Bulgaria and Poland), the cultural spending of households in the 5th quintile of income was at least five times higher than that of households in the 1st quintile group. In contrast, in Luxembourg and Sweden this ratio was around two to one. The widest discrepancy in cultural expenditure is observed between households in the 4th and 5th quintile income groups. This phenomenon is most visible in Greece and Portugal.

Television and radio fees accounted for 23 % of EU private expenditure on culture

In terms of the ‘basket’ of cultural goods and services consumed by EU households in 2010, the category ‘television and radio fees, hire of equipment and accessories for culture’ accounted for the biggest proportion (23 %) of cultural expenditure (see Figure 3). Together with ‘newspapers and periodicals’ and ‘information processing equipment’ (which includes computers and software), this category made up half (50 %) of the cultural total. Two other categories had a two-digit share: ‘books’ (11 %) and ‘equipment for the reception, recording and reproduction of sound and vision’ (10 %). With a share of 1.2 % each, ‘musical instruments’ and ‘museums, libraries and zoological gardens’ were the two categories with one of the lowest private expenditure at EU level. The lowest share of 1.1 % presented the category 'repair of audio-visual, photographic and information processing equipment.

The 14 items of private cultural expenditure can be grouped into five categories according to usage and function (see Figure 4):

  • TV and radio fees and subscriptions;
  • books and newspapers;
  • equipment (IT and equipment for the reception, reproduction and recording of vision and sound) and recording media (CDs, DVDs, etc.);
  • ‘going out’ and entertainment (cinemas, theatres, museums, libraries, concerts and services of photographers and performing artists) and
  • articles allowing artistic creation and expression (including photo and video cameras, musical instruments, and stationery and drawing material).

On this basis, the Member States can be grouped in three clusters according to spending patterns (Figure 5):

  • in seven Member States (Bulgaria, Ireland, Hungary, Poland, Romania, Slovenia and Slovakia) most cultural expenditure went on fees and subscriptions for radio and television;
  • books and newspapers, journals and periodicals accounted for the highest proportions of cultural expenditure in Belgium, Greece, Croatia, Italy, Cyprus and Latvia;
  • the third and biggest cluster is composed of 12 Member States where the highest percentage of cultural expenditure was devoted to equipment such as computers, TVs, radios, CD players and all kinds of recorders, and on CDs and DVDs.

The group of items referring to participation in culture (tickets for cinema, various cultural events and the services of photographers and performing artists) represented 13 % of total EU spending on culture, with the highest proportions (over 19 %) observed in Ireland, Spain, Italy and Portugal.

Expenditure on articles allowing artistic expression and creation (e.g. cameras or musical instruments) was significantly higher than the EU average (9 %) in Luxembourg and Portugal.

A diverse picture of households’ spending in the EU emerges as regards the detailed breakdown of expenditure on cultural goods and services analysed by country (see Table 1). Bulgaria and Romania ranked top for ‘television fees’, with a 60 % share of total cultural expenditure, followed closely by Poland (45 %), while on the other hand Estonia and Spain ranked last, both with 9 %. Over 20 % of cultural expenditure in Greece, Latvia and Finland was on ‘newspapers and periodicals’, as against less than 10 % in Luxembourg, Malta and Poland. Expenditure on ‘IT equipment’ was the highest in Lithuania, Luxembourg and Malta (between 17 % and 19 %),but however accounted for less than 5 % in Bulgaria, Croatia, Italy and Romania. In Croatia around 21 % of household cultural expenditure went on 'books', while in several countries the figure was 6–7 %. Estonia recorded the highest percentage devoted to ‘equipment for the reception, recording and reproduction of sound and vision’ (18 %), while Portuguese households spent the most in the EU (17 %) on ‘cinema, theatre and concerts’, followed by Spain (13 %), Estonia, Lithuania, Greece, Italy and Austria (all 10 %). In Bulgaria, Romania, Poland and Slovenia this figure was between 2–4 %. Portugal also ranked top for expenditure on ‘stationery and drawing materials’ (26 %) and the households in Germany, France, Austria and the United Kingdom spent the most in the EU (about 7 %) on ‘recording media’ (CDs, DVDs). Ireland had the highest proportion of cultural expenses on ‘services of photographers and performing artists’ (13 %), while for ‘photographic and cinematographic equipment’, the highest percentage (5 %) was recorded in Luxembourg. Regarding ‘equipment for the reception, recording and reproduction of sound’, Luxembourg and the United Kingdom had the highest proportions (both 4 %). Luxembourg also ranked first for expenditure on ‘musical instruments’ (3 %), while Belgian (4 %) and Czech (3 %) households ranked top for expenditure on 'museums, libraries and zoological gardens'.

Harmonised index of consumer prices

2005–15: increase of prices of newspapers (+ 40 %) and decrease for television sets (– 60 %)

HICPs measure change over time in the prices of consumer goods and services, used or paid for by households. It is an important measure of inflation in the EU. The values presented here refer to HICPs indexed to 2005 as reference year and take into account a selection of items relating to culture.

Figure 6 shows six cultural items for which HICPs are available at EU level from 2005 to 2015 [2]. Two main trends can be observed over the decade:

  • on the one hand, prices fell for IT equipment, equipment for the reception, recording and reproduction of sound and vision (TV sets, radios, CD players, etc.) and recording media (including CDs and DVDs). The decrease in prices of these goods certainly resulted in better and better equipment in households;
  • on the other hand, a significant price increase was observed for newspapers and periodicals and a moderate increase for books and cultural services [3]. The index for newspapers and periodicals reached in 2015 a level much above total inflation while for the two remaining categories the index appeared to be in line with the overall HICP growth pattern.

In both cases, the increase or decrease was a steady trend, with few fluctuations from year to year. Prices for newspapers and periodicals showed the highest growth (+ 40 %) and those for equipment the largest decrease (– 60 %).

A more detailed analysis of 2005–15 HICPs by country and cultural item serves to highlight differences within the EU (see Table 2) and shows that the HICP for newspapers and periodicals rose in all Member States. In the case of Romania, the index for newspapers and periodicals more than doubled while the smallest rises (10 % and 17 % respectively) were recorded in Greece and Croatia.

At EU level, price indices for cinema, museums, television fees and other services grew steadily and followed closely the trend of all consumption items (see Figure 6). The rise of prices for those items was also noted at the level of individual countries with the highest increases recorded in Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania (see Table 2). Only Malta registered the opposite trend. As regards books, the HICP changes varied from – 7 % in the Netherlands (the only Member State registering a decrease) to + 68 % in Estonia. In a number of Member States (Bulgaria, Denmark, Lithuania, Hungary, Poland, Romania, Slovakia and the United Kingdom) the increases were significantly higher than the EU average. In contrast, only small rises (up to 7 %) were recorded in Germany, Greece, Cyprus, Luxembourg, Malta, Austria and Slovenia. Unlike newspapers, books and cultural services, the indices for equipment and also for recording media, like CDs or DVDs, fell in the majority of countries. The prices of these articles fell by nearly half in 2015 compared with 2005 in Ireland and Slovenia, but did not change in Estonia and Luxembourg.

Regarding 'equipment for the reception, recording and reproduction of sound and picture', the drop in prices was substantial in all Member States. The HICPs in this category (which includes TV sets, for example) fell most steeply in Sweden (to a fifth of the 2005 level). Most other Member States saw drops of at least 30 %, however in Romania this index fell only slightly, by 5 %. The category that registered the sharpest HICP decrease was ‘information processing equipment’, for which the price indices decreased in all Member States, with the lowest values in 2015 compared to 2005 registered in Ireland (– 86 %) and the highest in Slovenia and Romania (– 22 % and – 26 %).

Data sources and availability

Eurostat compiles data on private cultural expenditure from Household Budget Surveys (HBSs) and Harmonised indices of consumer prices (HICPs).

The HBS collects data on households’ final consumption expenditure broken down by Classification of individual consumption by purpose (COICOP) categories and certain cross-sectional variables.

The main purpose of HBSs at national level is to update the weights of the basket of goods and services used for the calculation of the HICP. However, these detailed data on household spending can also be used for other purposes, such as analysing expenditure by specific groups of goods and services (e.g. cultural items, as covered in this article).

Household final consumption expenditure is measured in national currency, euros and Purchasing power standard (PPS).

So far, the HBS data have been collected approximately every five years: in 1988, 1994, 1999, 2005, 2010 and 2015. The 2015 results are still being processed and are not yet ready for publication. The geographical coverage of the HBS had been extended to all 28 EU Member States by 2005. It also covers Norway, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Turkey and Montenegro.

Generally speaking, the HBS describes the structure of households’ expenditure. This information is mainly used at EU level in the context of consumer protection policy. Together with HICPs, HBS statistics are used to develop a consumer market scoreboard to track how markets in various sectors of the economy are performing from a consumer’s perspective.

HICPs give comparable measures of inflation, tracking over time the prices of consumer goods and services acquired by households. They use the COICOP classification categories for consumption.

HICPs with harmonised coverage and methodology have been published every year since March 1997 and go back to January 1996. Their geographical coverage has developed in line with EU enlargements and also covers Switzerland, Iceland, Norway, Turkey and the United States.


Culture is one of Europe’s greatest strengths: it is a source of values, identity and a sense of belonging. It also contributes to people’s well-being, to social cohesion and inclusion. The cultural and creative sectors are a driver of economic growth, job creation and external trade.

That is why culture is becoming increasingly important at EU level. 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 European Council Work Plan for Culture (2015–2018). This Work Plan, adopted by EU Culture Ministers in December 2014, sets out the main priorities for European cooperation in cultural policy-making: inclusive and accessible culture, the promotion of cultural heritage, support to the flowering of the cultural and creative sectors, and the promotion of cultural diversity and of culture in EU external relations.

The production of reliable, comparable and up-to-date cultural statistics, which are the basis of sound cultural policy-making, are also a cross-sectorial priority of this Work Plan.

Eurostat compiles culture statistics from several data collections conducted at EU level to provide policy-makers and other users with information on the main trends in employment, business, international trade, participation and consumption patterns in the field of culture.

Expenditure/consumption patterns for goods and services relating to culture are of particular interest for understanding trends in cultural participation.

See also

Further Eurostat information

Data visualisation



Culture (cult)
Cultural participation and expenditure (cult_pcs)
Mean consumption expenditure of private households on cultural goods and services by COICOP consumption purpose (cult_pcs_hbs)
Mean consumption expenditure of private households on cultural goods and services by income quintile (cult_pcs_qnt)
HICP (2015 = 100) — annual data (average index and rate of change) (prc_hicp_aind)

Dedicated section

Methodology / Metadata

Statistics on household expenditure on cultural goods are extracted and then compiled from the HBS. The HBS statistics enable us to measure households’ expenditure on articles and services such as food, beverages, clothing, housing, water, electricity, health, transport, communication, education and travel. It is also possible to distinguish expenditure items relating to culture.

HICP data for a selection of cultural items provide information on price developments for consumption goods and services.

The classification designed for household expenditure purposes and used in the HBS and HICPs is the Classification of individual consumption by purpose (COICOP). The culture-related items (goods and services) in COICOP are goods such as books, newspapers and tickets for cinemas, theatres, concerts, museums or libraries. In addition, some articles enabling the artistic creation are counted, e.g. musical instruments, photo and video cameras, and drawing materials. Another group of cultural goods covered is equipment (such as IT equipment, TV sets, radios and CD players) which allows the reception of cultural content and facilitates access to it.

The following COICOP items were identified in the ESSnet-Culture final report (2012) as relating to culture:

  • Books
  • Newspapers and periodicals
  • Cinemas, theatres and concerts
  • Museum, libraries and zoological gardens
  • Musical instruments
  • Photographic and cinematographic equipment
  • Stationery and drawing materials
  • Services of photographers and performing artists
  • Television and radio fees, hire of equipment and accessories for culture
  • Information processing equipment
  • Reception, recording and reproduction of sound and vision
  • Recording media
  • Reception, recording and reproduction of sound
  • Repair of audio-visual, photographic and information processing equipment

In HBS, PPS are used as a fictional currency in order to eliminate differences in purchasing power across countries. Private expenditure on cultural goods and services reflects cultural participation habits and is influenced by a number of factors, such as wealth, the availability of cultural facilities and price structures. Therefore, data on private cultural expenditure can be complemented by HICP information. HICPs are constructed to track price developments for goods and services purchased by households. They are based on an adapted COICOP classification (COICOP-HICP), with 2015 as reference year. For the purpose of this publication the index figures for cultural goods and services were referenced to 2005 = 100.

HICPs cover the following cultural items:

  • Newspapers and periodicals
  • Books
  • Reception, recording and reproduction of sound and vision
  • Recording media
  • Information processing equipment
  • Cultural services

Source data for tables, figures and maps (MS Excel)

Other information

External links


  1. Excluding the Netherlands.
  2. Index values are currently disseminated by Eurostat with 2015 = 100. These index figures are here referenced to 2005 = 100.
  3. Cultural services include ‘cinemas, theatres, concerts’, ‘museums, libraries, zoological gardens’, ‘television and radio fees, hire of equipment and accessories for culture’ and ‘other cultural services’.