Wednesday, June 19, 2024

Culture statistics – cultural employment

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Cultural employment – current state and latest developments

In 2022, cultural employment accounted for 3.8 % of total employment in the EU, (equal to 7.7 million people), ranging from 1.5 % in Romania to 5.4 % in the Netherlands. Overall, cultural employment accounted for a higher share of total employment in western and northern Member States than in the east and south of the EU (see Map 1).

Map 1: Cultural employment 2022
(% of total employment)
Source: Eurostat (cult_emp_sex)

In 2022 cultural employment increased in 19 EU Member States

In recent years, as in many other fields, cultural employment growth has been significantly slowed-down by the Covid-19 crisis. In 2020, the first year of the pandemic, the number of people in cultural employment decreased by 3 % compared to the preceding year. This negative change was the first such change in cultural employment for a long time. In 2022, annual growth of +4.5 % is estimated at EU level, indicating a recovery in the cultural sectors. However, this evolution varies considerably across Europe.

In 2022, cultural employment increased in 19 EU countries compared to 2021. Cyprus (21.5 %), Luxembourg (14.5 %) and Ireland (14.0 %) recorded the highest increases. Croatia (–6.3 %), Czechia (–7.3 %) and Bulgaria (–7.7 %) had the most significant decreases in cultural employment.

a vertical bar chart showing the cultural employment, annual rates of change from 2020-2022 in the EU, EU Member States and some of the EFTA countries, candidate countries.

Figure 1: Cultural employment ‒ annual rates of change, 2020-2022
Source: Eurostat (cult_emp_sex)

Table 1 presents data on cultural employment for 2019, 2020, 2021 and 2022, providing information on the absolute number of people in cultural employment and the share of total employment at EU and national levels.
Significant increases between 2021 and 2022 across EU countries were observed in Germany (by 100 000), France (by 55 000, with a difference in the definition of employment since 2021: individuals who were temporarily laid-off due to pandemic restrictions were counted as in employment), and the Netherlands (by 49 000). In the same period, Czechia and Bulgaria experienced the most substantial decline in cultural employment, with a decrease of 15 000 and 7 000 individuals, respectively.
Regarding cultural employment as share of total employment, increases were observed in 13 EU countries. The highest rise of 0.5 percentage points (p.p.) was recorded in Cyprus and Luxembourg. By contrast, 11 EU countries saw a decrease in this share. Estonia and Bulgaria recorded the most significant decrease, by –0.4 and –0.3 percentage points. Notably, in 2022, Bulgaria had one of the lowest shares of people in culture-related occupations, with 2.7 % of the total national employment. In three EU Member States (Malta, Slovakia and Finland), the share of cultural employment of total employment recorded the same values in 2021 and 2022.

a table showing cultural employment from 2019 to 2022 in the EU, EU Member States and some of the EFTA countries, candidate countries.

Table 1: Cultural employment, 2019 to 2022
Source: Eurostat (cult_emp_sex)

Trends in employment across cultural sectors

In the following paragraph we present the distribution of people employed across cultural sectors as defined by the NACE Rev.2 classification of economic activities. Figure 2 shows employment trends at EU level in selected cultural sectors over a 10-year period, encompassing most individuals included in cultural employment statistics (56.5 %).

Recent observations indicate the following trends in employment development within the cultural sectors:

  • a year-on-year increase in the number of employed persons in 2021 and 2022 is observed in activities related to design, photography and translation (NACE M74.1, M74.2, M74.3), as well as in the audio-visual production sector (NACE J59); the values recorded in 2022 align with the long-term trend specific to both sectors;
  • employment in the sector related to cultural heritage (NACE R91) shows a smooth long-term growth trend, which continued in 2022;
  • the creative, arts and entertainment activities (NACE R90) experienced dynamic growth in the years preceding the pandemic but faced a substantial decline in employment in 2020. These sectors rebounded in 2022 achieving their highest level of employment in the referenced timeframe;
  • employment in occupations related to content reproduction and mass distribution (NACE C18 and NACE J60 – Programming and broadcasting activities) continued along a downward trend;
  • the publishing sector (part of NACE J58 – Publishing activities), despite the long-term downward trend, showed a slight increase in employment in 2021 and 2022. However, this recovery remains below the values recorded for each year between 2012 and 2019.

Figure 2: Evolution of cultural employment by selected NACE Rev. 2 activities, EU, 2012-2022
Source: Eurostat (cult_emp_n2) a line chart with seven lines showing the evolution of cultural employment by selected NACE Rev. 2 activities in the EU from 2012 to 2022. The liens show the selected NACE Rev. 2 activities.

Characteristics of cultural employment in 2022

Cultural employment by sex, age and educational attainment

In 2022, the socio-demographic profile of cultural employment in the EU did not differ much from that of total employment when broken down by sex and age of employed people. However, there were significant differences when these groups were broken down by educational attainment level.

In the cultural sectors, women were employed more than in the whole economy (49.2 % versus 46.3 %). When broken down by age, cultural employment showed higher percentages of people aged 30-39 (24.7 % in cultural employment versus 22.9 % in total employment), those aged 65 and over (4.3 % versus 2.8 % in total employment), and those aged 15-29 (17.6 % versus 17.3 %). Conversely, there were fewer people in cultural employment compared to total employment in the age groups 50-64 (28.3 % versus 31.5 %) and 40-49 (25.0 % versus 25.5 %).

The educational attainment structure of cultural and total employment has shown a significantly greater difference. According to the 2022 data, the socio-demographic profile of cultural employment was characterized by a generally higher level of educational attainment, with 60.6 % of cultural workers having tertiary education (ISCED 5-8), 31.4 % having upper secondary education and 7.9 % of them having the lowest levels of educational attainment (ISCED 0-2). In total employment, these figures accounted for 37.1 %, 46.3 % and 16.5 %, respectively (see Figure 3).

a stacked bar graph showing the cultural and total employment by sex, age and educational attainment in the EU in 2022. For each category there are two bars one shows total employment and one shows cultural employment.

The share of women in cultural employment

Between 2014 and 2022, the number of women employed in culture-related activities steadily increased across the European Union, except in 2020. In 2022, the growth rate for women employed in culture exceeded 5 %, overpassing the growth rate of cultural employment for men. This dynamic growth reduced the gender gap in cultural employment, reducing it from 6.8 % in 2014 to 4 % in 2020 and further narrowing it to just 1.6 % in 2022 (see Figure 4).

a line chart with two lines showing the evolution of cultural employment in the EU by sex from 2012 to 2022. The lines show men and women.

Figure 4: Evolution of cultural employment in the EU by sex, 2012-22
Source: Eurostat (cult_emp_sex)

While the proportion of men and women in cultural employment at the EU level in 2022 was almost equal, the picture varied somewhat across Member States. In 14 EU countries, there were more women than men in cultural employment, with the highest national share observed in Latvia at 63.0 %, followed by Lithuania at 62.8 % and Cyprus at 58.6 %. Countries with the lowest percentage of women in cultural employment were Ireland (45.7 %), Italy (45.6 %), Spain (45.3 %) and Malta (39.2 %).

For more detailed information on the characteristics of cultural and total employment figures broken down by sex, age and educational attainment, please refer to the Excel.jpg Cultural employment: tables and figures.

Some other characteristics of cultural employment

The EU-LFS also provides information on additional socioeconomic characteristics that may be used to analyse cultural employment in more detail, including self-employment and working pattern (full-time and part-time employment).


Besides the high share of tertiary educated workers, cultural employment is also characterised by a relatively high proportion of self-employed workers. This reflects the independent and specialised nature of many occupations in the cultural sector — for example, authors, performing artists, musicians, painters and sculptors or craftspeople.

In 2022, almost one-third (31.7 %) of cultural workers across the EU were self-employed (compared to an average of 13.8 % in the whole economy). Self-employment accounted for almost half of all cultural employment in the Netherlands (47.2 %) and Italy (46.2 %). The other countries with rates of cultural self-employment higher than the EU average were Czechia, Slovakia, Malta, Ireland and Greece. By contrast, only around one in five people in cultural employment were self-employed in Bulgaria and Romania.

The level of self-employment in the field of culture was higher than the level of self-employment in the national economy in all 27 EU countries.

Full-time work

In 2022, more than three quarters (76.5 %) of cultural workers in the EU were employed on a full-time basis, (5 p.p. less than in the whole economy). This pattern occurred in almost all EU countries, except for the Netherlands and Romania. The smaller proportion of people working full-time in culture-related professions could be explained, at least partly, by a number of cultural jobs being characterised by self-employment/freelancing and job flexibility. However, this situation can result in job insecurity and considerable variations in income over time. Full-time employment in the cultural field varies significantly between countries, ranging from 60.7 % in the Netherlands to 95.8 % in Bulgaria and 96.7 % in Romania. These differences primarily reflect variations in national labour markets, such as the prevalence of part-time work, rather than unique features specific to cultural employment.

Permanent jobs and employment with one-job positions

For two other indicators – employees with permanent positions and single jobs – only five countries showed a significant difference between cultural and total employment (more than 5 p.p.).

Regarding permanent jobs, a notable difference of more than 5 p.p. between cultural and total employment was observed in Greece, where 83.3 % of workers in culture-related professions had a permanent contract compared to the overall employment average of 89.9 %. Other countries with a large difference between cultural and total employment were Portugal (78.1 % vs 83.5%) and France (72.6 % vs 83.8 %, as mentioned above the definition of employment differs). Additionally, two EU countries recorded a higher prevalence of permanent jobs in cultural employment compared to the overall economy ‒ Romania reported 99.5 % permanent positions in cultural employment versus 97.8 % in total employment, and Hungary had 96.6 % permanent positions in cultural employment versus 94.5 % in total employment.

Having one job was slightly less frequent in cultural employment than in total employment in almost all EU countries except Romania, where 99.7 % of individuals in cultural employment reported having only one job compared to 99.4 % in total employment (see Table 2).

a table showing the selected labour market characteristics of the cultural employment and the total employment in the EU in 2022 in the EU, EU Member States and some of the EFTA countries, candidate countries.

Table 2: Selected labour market characteristics of the cultural employment and the total employment, EU, 2022
Source: Eurostat (cult_emp_wsta)

Focus on artists, authors, journalists and linguists

This final section of the article presents information on the employment characteristics of two groups of cultural occupations (as defined in the ISCO-08 classification): creative and performing artists (including visual artists, musicians, dancers, actors, film directors, etc.) and authors, journalists and linguists. These two types of occupations are referred to here as ’artists and writers’.

In 2022, the European Union had approximately 1.7 million artists and writers, constituting 22 % of all cultural employment. Among them, around 46.0 % were self-employed, a significantly higher proportion compared to both total employment (13.8 %) and the cultural employment of the EU (31.7 %). In Germany, the share of artists and writers who were self-employed was 5.3 times higher than the average for the national economy. The self-employment rate among artists and writers was also notably high in Sweden (being 4.8 times higher than in the national economy), Austria (4.3 times higher), Slovenia and the Netherlands (4.1 times higher). In the Netherlands specifically, 66.1 % of all artists and writers were self-employed in 2022. Similarly, self-employment rates of at least 50 % were observed in Czechia (60.3 %), Italy (59.7 %), Portugal (57.5 %), Ireland (54.1 %), as well as in Malta, Slovakia and Slovenia where the data have low reliability.

In 2022, the full-time employment rate among artists and writers in the EU was 72.6 %, slightly lower than the rates observed for cultural employment (76.5 %) and the overall economy (81.5 %). The most visible contrast was seen in Greece and Lithuania, where the proportion of full-time artists and writers was around 19 p.p. lower compared to the average for total employment (72.7 % vs 91.8 % and 74.2 % vs 93.1 %, respectively). In turn, the Netherlands was the only EU country where the percentage of full-time artists and writers exceeded the proportion of full-time workers in the entire Dutch economy (by 2 p.p.). Notably, the Netherlands had the lowest full-time employment rates in 2022 across the EU, with 58.7 % for artists and writers and 56.6 % for total employment.

A sign of the precarious nature of employment faced by artists and writers can be seen in the duration of their work contracts. In 2022, 85.9 % of all employees in the EU had a permanent employment contract, while among artists and writers, a permanent contract was held by less than three-quarters (73.3 %) of employees. Compared with the average for total national employment, a lower percentage of artists and writers had a permanent contract in most EU countries, apart from Malta (low reliability of data), Croatia (low reliability of data), Romania, Estonia and Cyprus. The greatest difference between values recorded for the total economy and these creative activities was in France (31 p.p.), where, in 2022, only around half of the people employed as artists and writers had a permanent contract (52.9 %).

Beside their main job, some artists and writers have a second job. Across the EU, most people (96.1 %) in overall employment held a single job in 2022. Artists and writers were less likely (90.1 %) to have just one job, and this pattern occurred in all EU countries except Croatia. The share of artists and writers with just one job was more than ten percentage points below the level of the total economy in Estonia and Lithuania. In addition, in Lithuania – the country with the lowest share of single-job employment among EU countries in 2022 (80.4 %), one artist or writer out of five had more than one job.

a table showing the characteristics of persons working as creative and performing artists, authors, journalists and linguists in 2022 in the EU, EU Member States and some of the EFTA countries, candidate countries.

Table 3: Characteristics of persons working as creative and performing artists, authors, journalists and linguists, 2022
(thousands, %)
Source: Eurostat (cult_emp_art) and (cult_emp_artpc)

Source data for tables and graphs

Data sources

The statistical concept of cultural employment is based on the methodology proposed by the European Statistical System Network on Culture (see the ESSnet-Culture final report (2012)).

The ESSnet-Culture report defines cultural employment by crossing economic activities (based on the statistical classification of economic activities in the European Community – NACE Rev. 2) with a set of occupations (using the international standard classification of occupations – ISCO-08).

Defining cultural employment

As the ESSnet-Culture report notes, cultural employment covers three types of situations (see Figure 5):

  • an employed person holds a cultural occupation and works in the cultural sector (for example, a ballet dancer employed by a ballet company or a journalist working for a daily newspaper);
  • an employed person holds a cultural occupation outside the cultural sector (for example, a designer who works in the motor vehicles industry);
  • an employed person holds a non-cultural occupation in the cultural sector (for example, an accountant working in a publishing house).
a diagram showing examples of the definition of the scope of cultural employment.

Eurostat’s statistics on cultural employment are sourced from the EU-LFS; the population covered by this survey concerns people aged 15 and over. Eurostat compiles data on cultural employment according to the field of economic activity in which the employed person works and their occupation, using a matrix to create an aggregate for all cultural employment. The data may be analysed at a more detailed level, for example, broken down by sex, age or by the level of educational attainment.

The two lists below contain the economic activities (NACE Rev. 2) and occupations (ISCO-08) used to calculate aggregates for cultural employment from the EU-LFS.

Cultural sectors (economic activities) — NACE Rev. 2

18 Printing and reproduction of recorded media
32.2 Manufacture of musical instruments
58.1 Publishing of books, periodicals and other publishing activities
59 Motion picture, video and television programme production, sound recording and music publishing activities
60 Programming and broadcasting activities
74.1 Specialised design activities
74.2 Photographic activities
74.3 Translation and interpretation activities
90 Creative, arts and entertainment activities
91 Libraries, archives, museums and other cultural activities

Cultural occupations — ISCO-08

216 Architects, planners, surveyors and designers
2353 Other language teachers
2354 Other music teachers
2355 Other arts teachers
262 Librarians, archivists and curators
264 Authors, journalists and linguists
265 Creative and performing artists
3431 Photographers
3432 Interior designers and decorators
3433 Gallery, museum and library technicians
3435 Other artistic and cultural associate professionals
3521 Broadcasting and audio-visual technicians
4411 Library clerks
7312 Musical instrument makers and tuners
7313 Jewellery and precious-metal workers
7314 Potters and related workers
7315 Glass makers, cutters, grinders and finishers
7316 Sign writers, decorative painters, engravers and etchers
7317 Handicraft workers in wood, basketry and related materials
7318 Handicraft workers in textile, leather and related materials
7319 Handicraft workers not elsewhere classified

The EU-LFS requires data to be provided for NACE divisions (two-digit level) and for ISCO minor groups (three-digit level). However, most countries provide more detailed data on a voluntary basis. For countries missing information at NACE three-digit level or/and ISCO four-digit level, the estimate is made using coefficients calculated for countries that provide the highest level of detail.

Estimating cultural employment

When estimating cultural employment, it is difficult to determine the proportion of some economic activities and occupations that is genuinely cultural. For this reason, activities and occupations which are only partially cultural were excluded from the estimates. For example, sports, recreation and cultural centre managers (ISCO Unit Group 1431) refers to an occupation with a cultural component; however, it is impossible to estimate the share specifically relating to culture. Therefore, and taking a conservative approach, it was decided to exclude this occupation (and other similar cases) when computing an aggregate for cultural employment.

Moreover, the EU-LFS collects (detailed enough) information on the economic activity and occupation only of the respondent’s main job and therefore omits information about secondary jobs (e.g., in the field of culture). Consequently, these secondary jobs are excluded from the aggregate covering cultural employment.

In view of these limitations and the approach adopted, data on cultural employment are likely to underestimate the true extent of employment in this field.

Time series

Regulation (EU) 2019/1700 came into force on 1 January 2021 and resulted in a break in the EU-LFS time series for several EU Member States. To monitor the evolution of employment and unemployment despite the break in the time series, Member States assessed the impact of the break in their country and computed impact factors or break corrected data for a set of indicators. Break corrected data are published for the LFS main indicators.

More information on the EU-LFS can be found via the online publication, which includes eight articles on the technical and methodological aspects of the survey. The EU-LFS methodology in force from the 2021 data collection onwards is described in methodology from 2021 onwards. Detailed information on coding lists, explanatory notes and classifications used over time can be found under documentation.


Culture is one of Europe greatest assets: it is a source of values and identity and creates a sense of belonging. It also contributes to well-being, social cohesion and inclusion. The cultural and creative sectors can trigger economic growth, job creation and international trade.

Therefore culture is gaining importance in the EU. Article 167 of the Treaty of Lisbon states that the EU must 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 and several policy actions included in the Work Plan for Culture (2023-2026). The plan, adopted by the Council of Culture Ministers of the EU, sets out the current main priorities for European cooperation in cultural policymaking: empowering the cultural and creative sectors, enhancing cultural participation and the role of culture in society, unleashing the power of culture and strengthening the cultural dimension of the EU external relations. The implementation of the Work Plan for Culture (2023-2026) is supported by optimised use of quality data and statistics.

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