What Makes an Artist? The Evolution and Clustering of Creative Activity in the US since 1850

Discussion Papers on Business and Economics, University of Southern Denmark, 1/2021

52 Pages Posted: 12 Mar 2021

See all articles by Karol Borowiecki

Karol Borowiecki

University of Southern Denmark

Christian M. Dahl

Department of Business and Economics

Date Written: January 22, 2021

Abstract

This research illuminates the historical development and clustering of creative activity in the United States. Census data is used to identify creative occupations (i.e., artists, musicians, authors, actors) and data on prominent creatives, as listed in a comprehensive biographical compendium. The analysis first sheds light on the socio-economic background of creative people and how it has changed since 1850. The results indicate that the proportion of female creatives is relatively high, time constraints can be a hindrance for taking up a creative occupation, racial inequality is present and tends to change only slowly, and access to financial resources within a family facilitates the uptake of an artistic occupation. Second, the study systematically documents and quantifies the geography of creative clusters in the United States and explains how these have evolved over time and across creative domains.

Keywords: Creativity, artists, geographic clustering, agglomeration economies, urban history

JEL Classification: R1, N33, Z11

Suggested Citation

Borowiecki, Karol and Dahl, Christian M., What Makes an Artist? The Evolution and Clustering of Creative Activity in the US since 1850 (January 22, 2021). Discussion Papers on Business and Economics, University of Southern Denmark, 1/2021, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3771132 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3771132

Karol Borowiecki (Contact Author)

University of Southern Denmark ( email )

Campusvej 55
DK-5230 Odense, 5000
Denmark

Christian M. Dahl

Department of Business and Economics ( email )

Campusvej 55
DK-5230 Odense M
Denmark
29125486 (Phone)

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