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Arts and the GDP: Value Added by Selected Cultural Industries

Research Note #104

December 9, 20119 December 2011

Economic impact of culture

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Based on data from the U.S. Department of Commerce, this research note provides information about the value added to the American Gross Domestic Product (i.e., contribution to the economy through labor and capital, plus taxes on production) in 2009 from three key industries:

  • Publishing (including software publishing) added $147.7 billion to the American economy.
  • Performing arts, sports and museums contributed $70.9 billion.
  • Motion pictures and sound recording added $59.8 billion to the American economy.
  • Combined, these three industries contributed $278.4 billion.

While a breakdown within these groups is not possible from the 2009 data, a more detailed view is provided every five years, the most recent of which pertains to 2002 data. In 2002, the value added by sports was over two times greater than for the performing arts and about three and a half times larger than for museums.

The report indicates that, between 1987 and 2009, “the inflation-adjusted value added by the performing arts, sports, and museums nearly doubled”. The report also notes that this group of industries is prone to business cycle fluctuations, experiencing a 1.4% decrease in value added in 2008 and a 5.5% decrease in 2009.

The two other industries highlighted in the report also experienced recent decreases in value added. The value added by motion pictures and sound recording decreased by 3.5% in 2008 and 2.4% in 2009. The publishing industry experienced a 2.4% increase in 2008 and a 7.1% decrease in 2009.

The report also identifies the state-level value added and employment impacts of the performing arts and heritage organizations.

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