Artists, audiences & wellbeing: An economic analysis




Cultural Engagement, Artist, Life satisfaction, Malta


We set out to examine the relationship between cultural engagement and wellbeing in a European Union state, Malta. We specify a conceptual model of wellbeing, captured by self-assessed life satisfaction as the predicted variable. Armed with a rich dataset (n = 1,125), drawn from a nationally representative sample, we construct variables that capture the diverse forms of cultural participation including a variable that identifies artists. We test three hypotheses, namely that passive cultural participation (audience) is positively associated with life satisfaction, that active (productive) cultural participation is positively associated with life satisfaction, and that artists have a higher level of life satisfaction, all else being equal. We find that both active and passive participation activities are associated with higher levels of life satisfaction; that active participation (including production, donation and travel) manifests a stronger relationship with life satisfaction than passive participation; and that life satisfaction is higher among those who identify as artists even after the effects of all other control variables are parsed out. This being the first nationally representative study on life satisfaction in Malta, the study makes a useful contribution in this regard, finding that factors like employment, health, engagement in sport, politics, religion, environment, as well as region of residence and migration are all significant correlates of life satisfaction.


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Author Biographies

Marie Briguglio, University of Malta

Marie Briguglio is a resident academic at the University of Malta (Department of Economics) with a PhD in Economics (Stirling University), a MSc (University College London), and a BA Honours in Economics (University of Malta). Her main research interests include cultural participation, market failure, voluntary environmental cooperation and wellbeing, on which topics she has published extensively. She has served as the University of Malta’s Principal Investigator on a number of research projects including those funded by the EU’s Horizon 2020 programme, the University of Malta’s Research Excellence Grant and several collaborative research projects with public sector organisations.

Gilmour Camilleri, University of Malta

Gilmour Camilleri is a Visiting Lecturer at the Department of Economics, University of Malta and a research assistant on projects related to cultural economics. His research interests include Macroeconomics, Structural Macro-econometric time-series Modelling, Applied Econometrics and Forecasting and Policy Analysis. He graduated in Commerce and in Economics from the University of Malta and completed a Master of Science in Economics and Econometrics at the University of Nottingham in 2015, with Distinction. For 6 years he led the modelling and forecasting team at the Economic Policy Department within the Ministry for Finance of Malta.


Melchior Vella, University of Malta

Melchior Vella is a Visiting Lecturer at the Department of Economics, University of Malta and a Doctoral student at the Institute for Social and Economic Research, University of Essex. He obtained a Master of  Science  degree  in  Economics  at  the  University of Essex in 2016 with distinction. He earlier graduated in Commerce, majoring in  Economics  and  Public  Policy,  then  in  B.Com.  (Honours) in  Economics (First Class) from the University of Malta. He has served in the public service as an economist at the Economic Policy Department within the Ministry for Finance. His research interests include labour economics, and economies of small states.