The Economic and Cultural Value of Paintings: Some Empirical Evidence

David Throsby*, Anita Zednik

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review

15 Citations (Scopus)


A long-standing debate in the economics of art and culture is concerned with the adequacy or otherwise of the theory of value in economics to capture a full representation of the value of cultural phenomena. At a theoretical level it has been proposed that a distinct form of value is embodied in or yielded by cultural goods and services that is related to, but not synonymous with, the goods' economic value. This form of value, termed cultural value, is congruent with the concepts of the value of art works that are discussed in aesthetics and the philosophy of art. Although the parallel existence of economic and cultural value can be proposed in theory, there is little or no empirical evidence to support a proposition that they are distinct phenomena or to explore the possible relationship between them. This chapter asks whether an economic assessment of the value of some cultural good will fully capture all relevant dimensions of the commodity's cultural value or whether there will be some components of cultural value that remain resistant to monetary evaluation. We also ask whether it is possible to identify separate concepts of individualistic and collective value for cultural goods as expressed by an individual, where the former relates solely to the person's own utility and the latter to some more disinterested view of value to the community or society in general. We illuminate these two areas with the aid of empirical evidence derived from a survey assessing consumer reactions to a group of paintings.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationHandbook of the Economics of Art and Culture
EditorsVictor A. Ginsburgh , David Throsby
Place of PublicationAmsterdam, Netherlands
Number of pages19
ISBN (Print)9780444537768
Publication statusPublished - 2014


  • Aesthetics
  • Canonical correlation
  • Cultural value
  • Economic value
  • Likert scales


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