EU Science Hub

Creative and cultural industries: what impact on cities’ economic and social development?

Photograph of an art piece
Feb 26 2015

A JRC-hosted roundtable on creative and cultural industries on 25 February brought together policy- and law-makers, as well as cultural associations and foundations and other stakeholders, who discussed how to measure the impact of this remarkably dynamic and innovative sector.

The roundtable was therefore an occasion to launch the development of a composite indicator that will monitor cultural and creative initiatives at city level in the EU – as well as with respect to other globally relevant cities – and will assess the impact of such initiatives on cities’ economic and social development. Measuring the progress of this sector can result in better use of resources and make the best use of Europe’s key strengths: its talented and diverse creative population.

The index, to be developed with other institutional and other partners, will comprise 19 dimensions and will be addressed to EU policy makers and academics working on cultural and creative issues, but also to representatives of local governments interested in promoting a city’s development by fostering the expansion of creativity and innovation. It is planned for launch in 2016.

Cultural and creative industries and initiatives may help to contrast recession and boost economic recovery. During the economic crisis, they have shown exceptional resilience to the economic crisis – according Ernst and Young, during the recession (2008-2012), employment in creative and cultural industries grew by 0.7% per year while overall EU employment fell by 0.7%.


The sector is well-placed to grow further due to its role as forerunner in digital innovation. It is also responsible for a spill-over effect to other vital economic sectors. Across the EU, one out of three tourists plans holidays primarily based on cultural attractions. The creative sectors are leaders in introducing consumers to the new business models of the digital era, paving the way for other sectors that are shifting services online.

The most recent findings on the EU confirm the hypothesis that these industries are a powerhouse of economic growth: they account for 4.2% of EU’s GDP and provide seven million jobs. The sector is therefore the third biggest employer – just behind construction and food & beverage – with 19.1% of the workforce aged under 30, i.e. the creative and cultural industries employ on average younger people than any other sector.

The roundtable was organised as a follow-up of the conference “Scientific support for growth and jobs: cultural and creative industries”, held in October 2013.