The link between cultural participation and well-being in later life – The Economist

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Art Benefits Life

Art Benefits LifeThere is certainly room to question this study that art benefits life. Assigning causation can be particularly difficult in analytics. However, there is at least a correlation. What is the harm is adding a bit more art and culture into our lives? The risk is pretty well 0 (even a bad book can be recycled as a paperweight) and there may well be a significant benefit to health.

Age UK, a British charity, has created an index of well-being based on survey data for 15,000 Britons older than 60. Its researchers found that a set of 40 social and economic indicators are the most useful for estimating a person’s overall quality of life. They did so using a statistical technique called structural-equation modelling, which examines the relationship between a diverse set of variables and assigns a weight to each one. The final well-being scores that the index produced for each person were closely correlated with their perceptions of life satisfaction. However, the model excluded that survey question because the statisticians wanted to come up with an objective measurement of quality of life.

Unsurprisingly, the charity found that wealth, health, education and emotional support all had significant effects on well-being. However, the measure with the biggest impact, when holding all other factors constant, was the number of creative and cultural activities in which somebody participates. The data could not reveal which type of art provided the greatest boost. Rather, they show that sampling a range of them, from photography to playing an instrument, was strongly correlated with a greater quality of life. Age UK’s research suggests that such activities can give people fulfillment, entertainment and social contacts that might otherwise be missing in their daily lives.

For more information please see the original article: The link between cultural participation and well-being in later life

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