Economic analysis of artists' behaviour: Some current issues

David Throsby*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Citations (Scopus)


Artistic labour is characterised by features that combine to set artists apart from other workers when viewed in terms of their labour market behaviour. Here, the value of a work of art can be simplified down to two essential elements - the work's economic value, and its cultural value, measured in terms of criteria of artistic worth such as aesthetic, spiritual, symbolic, and other types of value. In regard to the weights on economic and cultural value in the objective function, the model will allow for a range of financial and artistic motivations as stimuli to creative work. At one extreme, a unitary weight attached to cultural value and a zero weight to economic value would indicate that the artist's aims relate purely to the quality of the artwork itself, with complete disregard for its financial prospects. At the other extreme, a unitary weight on economic value and a zero weight on cultural value would imply that the artist is in the game solely for the money. The majority of artists in reality probably lie somewhere between these two polar cases.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)47-56
Number of pages10
JournalRevue d'Economie Politique
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2010


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