Wealth Is a Predictor of a Person Choosing a Creative Profession

A survey was conducted using 160 years’ worth of US demographic data to reveal that individuals from wealthy families are far more likely to engage in a creative profession than those who stem from lower-income households. Why is this so and is this a tendency that persists in modern society?

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The Course of the Research

A recent study that was done by an economist from the University of Southern Denmark, Karol Jan Borowiecki, claims that persons whose family earns an income of $100,000 are two times as likely to pursue a creative profession such as musician, artist, writer, or actor than a person coming from a family with a $50,000 income. The stakes become higher if the income is raised to a yearly $1 million. Borowiecki postulates that every additional $10,000 of income from immediate family members raises the likelihood of a person entering the creative fields by 2%.

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Why Do Wealthier Individuals Choose a Creative Profession?

It’s not hard to comprehend the logic backing up this math. The creative world is sometimes difficult to get a foothold in, let alone make significant headway, and having a wealthy family to rely on in the meantime can help. In 2017, Quoctrung Bui of The New York Times worked on quantifying this phenomenon by using surveys of young adults.

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The results showed that 53% of individuals in their early 20s looking to start a career in art and design receive financial assistance from their parents. On the other hand, 47%t of STEM professionals and 29% of individuals working in industries such as retail, construction, farming, and personal services did not rely on parental assistance financially.

Obstacles for Individuals in Creative Fields

The main obstacle for individuals pursuing a creative profession is the high initial cost coupled with a low financial return. University of Arizona researcher, Patrick Wightman, who helped Bui with the data analysis, explains that persons going into graphic design, for example, require a lot of time before they reach the point of independence. Without having other sources of financial support, like a wealthy family, taking an unpaid internship would hardly be an option for individuals seeking a creative career. Private art schools tend to charge high tuition and offer fewer scholarships. At the same time, many internships pay nothing while entry-level jobs at art hubs tend to pay very little.

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Other Articles Delve Into This Phenomenon

Ben Davis of Artnet News wrote an article in 2016, listing the wealthy financial backgrounds of various creatives ranging from Monir Shahroudy Farmanfarmian to Yoko Ono and many others. Naturally, there are exceptions to the pattern, with people from low-income families thriving in creative professions, such as Jacob Lawrence, Zoe Leonard, and more.