Economic Lives of Artists: Studies into Careers and the Labor Market in the Cultural Sector

Merijn Rengers

Research output: ThesisThesis fully internal (DIV)


The economic aspects of the lives of artists already puzzled classical economists such as Adam Smith and Alfred Marshall. Their theories provide the background for this book, which presents a number of empirical studies into careers and the labour market in the cultural sector. Leitmotivs are two modern theories in Cultural Economics: work-preference, which focuses on the overriding preference of artists to work in their own occupation in spite of the low earnings and winner-take-all or superstar theory, which aims to explain the extremely skewed income distribution in the arts. These theories are studied in detail in five chapters that cover diverse topics such as the relation between wages and labour supply among artists; the impact of the extensive system of grants and subsidies of the Dutch government for the careers of visual artists; the earnings and artistic achievements of a cohort of graduates from arts education during the first years of their career; the exhibitions of visual artists in museums, galleries and other locations and the determinants of the prices of works of visual art in Dutch modern art galleries.
Original languageEnglish
QualificationDoctor of Philosophy
Publication statusPublished - 2002


  • educational career
  • cultural economics
  • artists' labour market
  • labour economics
  • economic aspects of art
  • price of art

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