More Research on the Arts and GDP: Measuring Value as Investment
NEA Research Note #104 examines the arts’ contribution to the U.S. gross domestic product strictly in terms of “value added” through labor and capital spending (plus taxes on production). But another way to understand the arts in relation to GDP is to view the arts as a contribution to our nation’s capital assets—and then to track how those investments affect GDP over time.
In the June 2011 edition of the Survey of Current Business, U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) economist Rachel Soloveichik attempts to do just that. Her article, “Research Spotlight: Artistic Originals as Capital Assets,” describes the BEA’s plan to count the production of selected long-lived artworks as investment spending that adds to the U.S. stock of capital.
According to the BEA, long-lived assets are theatrical movies; recorded music; books; television programs such as dramas and sitcoms; and miscellaneous artwork (theatrical play scripts, greeting card designs, and commercial stock photography). Although this new accounting treatment is slated to take place in 2013, preliminary estimates show that the value of investment in these artistic originals totaled $51.6 billion in 2007; the aggregate capital stock of these types of investments (going back to 1929) is valued at $440 billion. Between 1980 and 2009, investment in these long-lived assets grew from 0.21 percent of current-dollar GDP to 0.35 percent.
Below are links to Soloveichik’s research article, as well as an additional paper she has co-authored, further exploring the effects of “long-lived artworks” on calculations of GDP.
“Research Spotlight: Artistic Originals as Capital Assets”
“Copyright Protected Assets in the National Accounts”
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