David Throsby

Artistic labour markets: Why are they of interest to labour economists?

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Artistic labour markets have some particular characteristics that make them potentially interesting to labour economists. This paper discusses three areas where labour market research in the economics of the arts and culture might have wider application. First are the characteristics of creative workers, including particularly artists, and the contribution of the creative industries to aggregate employment. In these industries labour content is particularly high; thus in times of acute or chronic unemployment they may provide an effective means for the generation of new jobs, especially in urban and regional centres where traditional industries have been declining. Second, artists' employment conditions and careers set them apart from other workers, and indeed artists can be seen as leading the way in mapping out new employment arrangements in the workforce in general, where attributes of flexibility and job-mobility are becoming more widely required of workers. Third, models of artists' labour supply decisions have thrown light on the role of non-pecuniary incentives in affecting time allocations to creative activity; these models may have wider application, especially to professional labour.


  • Artistic labour markets
  • creative workers
  • portfolio careers
  • work-preference model


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