European artists report high job satisfaction

Posted on: September 10, 2013


In Wednesday’s (9/4) Pacific Standard, Tom Jacobs reports, “The life of a poet, painter, or performer is seldom an easy one. Aside from the few who make it big, earnings tend to be low, while unemployment rates tend to be high. So why do so many people pursue a career in the arts? In two words: Job satisfaction. That’s the implication of recently published research featuring data from 49 European countries. In what researchers describe as a ‘robust phenomenon,’ it reports artists are more satisfied with their work than non-artists—in large part due to the autonomy they enjoy. A research team led by Bruno Frey, distinguished professor of behavioral science at the University of Warwick, looked at two sets of data from the European Values Study: the “waves” collected in 1999 and 2008.… The researchers looked at responses to the direct question: ‘Overall, how satisfied are you with your job?,’ comparing the responses of artists and non-artists.… Their key finding, reported in the journal Economics Letters: On a scale of one (very unhappy with their work) to 10 (totally happy), European artists average out at 7.7. That’s significantly above the 7.3 average for non-artists.”

Posted September 10, 2013