Italian Economic Journal

, Volume 5, Issue 3, pp 349–367 | Cite as

The Demand and Supply for Popular Culture: Evidence from Italian Circuses

  • Concetta CastiglioneEmail author
  • Roberto Zanola
Research Paper - Italy and Europe


Despite an extensive empirical literature on the determinants of cultural consumption, few studies focus on the demand for popular forms of culture (i.e. reality television, popular music, yellow journalism, among the others). The purpose of this paper is to fill this lacuna by analysing the market for circus, a worldwide popular performing art. To this aim, a demand–supply model is investigated using data on 107 Italian provinces over the period 2006–2007, by applying the SUR and the 3SLS methodologies. Findings confirm the economic theory, since price is negatively correlated with the quantity demanded and positively with the quantity supplied. According to our results circus is an inferior good. This result show that high and popular culture are far from competing each other. Cinema, theatre and concerts turn out to be feeble substitute goods for circus. Circuses in the South and Islands of Italy are characterised by longer stays in a single location probably due to higher appreciation for circus performances and favourable climate conditions. Since the determinants of popular culture demand are find to be different from those of high culture, our findings can be useful for policy makers to implement policies finalised to social inclusion and social cohesion.


Popular culture consumption Demand–supply model Circus Performing arts Italy SUR 3SLS 

JEL Classification

Z11 L82 D12 



  1. Arthur L (2001) Popular culture and early literacy learning. Contemp Iss Early Child 2:295–308. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Ateca-Amestoy V (2008) Determining heterogeneous behavior for theatre attendance. J Cult Econ 32:127–151. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Baum CF (2006) An introduction to modern econometrics using stata. Stata Press, College StationGoogle Scholar
  4. Bihagen E, Katz-Gerro T (2000) Culture consumption in Sweden: the stability of gender differences. Poetics 27(5):327–349. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Borowiecki KJ (2015) Historical origins of cultural supply in Italy. Oxford Econ Pap 67:781–805. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Borowiecki KJ, Prieto-Rodriguez J (2015) Video games playing: a substitute for cultural consumptions? J Cult Econ 39:239–258. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Burgess H (1974) The classification of circus techniques. Drama Rev 18: 65–70. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Cameron S (1986) The supply and demand for cinema tickets: some UK. Evid J Cult Econ 10:38–62Google Scholar
  9. Castiglione C (2017) Revealed individual attendance at Italian theatre: a microeconomic investigation. Econ Polit Forthcom. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Castiglione C, Infante D (2016a) Rational addiction and cultural goods. The case of the Italian theatregoers. J Cult Econ 40:163–190. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Castiglione C, Infante D (2016b) The evolution of theatre attendance in Italy: patrons and companies. In: Prieto-Rodriguez J, Ateca-Amestoy VM, Ginsburgh V, Mazza I, O’Hagan J (eds) Enhancing Cultural participation in the EU—challenges and methods. Springer, Berlin, pp 155–169CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Chiou L, Lopez M (2010) The reality of reality television: Does reality TV Influence local crime rates? Econ Lett 108:330–333. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Clark LS (2008) When the university went ‘Pop’: exploring cultural studies, sociology of culture, and the rising interest in the study of popular culture. Soc Compass 2:16–33. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Connolly M, Krueger AB (2006) Rockonomics: the economics of popular music. In: Ginsburgh VA, Throsby D (eds) Handbook of the economics of art and culture. Elsevier, Amsterdam, pp 667–719CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Crane DS (1992) High culture versus popular culture revisited: a reconceptualization of recorded cultures. In: Lamont M, Fournnier M (eds) Symbolic boundaries and the making of inequality. The University of Chicago Press, Chicago, pp 58–74Google Scholar
  16. Dewenter R, Westermann M (2005) Cinema demand in Germany. J Cult Econ 29:213–231. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Dornau B (2004) The economics of reality TV communications and the mass media. mimeo, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  18. Falk M, Katz-Gerro T (2015) Cultural participation in Europe: Can we identify common determinants? J Cult Econ 40:127–162. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Gans H (2008) Popular culture and high culture: an analysis and evaluation of taste (revised and updated): basic books, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  20. Grindstaff L (2008) Culture and popular culture: a case for sociology. Ann Am Acad Political Soc Sci 619:206–222. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Hall F (2002) Strategy and report on circus. The arts council of England, LondonGoogle Scholar
  22. Hallman K, Muñiz Artime C, Breuer C, Dallmeyer S, Metz M (2017) Leisure participation: modelling the decision to engage in sports and culture. J Cult Econ 4:467–487. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Hyun C, Byun C (2016) The economics of popular music industry. McMillan, PagraveGoogle Scholar
  24. Inthorn S, Street J, Scott M (2012) Popular culture as a resource for political engagement. Cult Soc 7:336–351. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Istituto Nazionale di Statistica-ISTAT (2007) Indagine sulle forze lavoro. Medie Istat, RomeGoogle Scholar
  26. Istituto Nazionale di Statistica-ISTAT (2008) Indagine sulle forze lavoro. Medie Istat, RomeGoogle Scholar
  27. Istituto Nazionale di Statistica-ISTAT (2011) Il reddito disponibile delle famiglie nelle regioni italiane. Anni 2006-2009. Istat, RomeGoogle Scholar
  28. Johnston J, DiNardo J (1997) Econometric methods, 4th edn. McGraw-Hill, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  29. Katsuura M (2008). Examining arts participation in Japan using the survey on time use and leisure activities. Asia Pacific J Arts Cultural Manag, 5: 343–361.
  30. Lévy-Garboua L, Montmarquette C (1996) A microeconometric study of theatre demand. J Cult Econ 20:25–50. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Luksetich WA, Lange MD (1995) A simultaneous model of nonprofit symphony orchestra behaviour. J Cult Econ 19:49–68. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. McCarthy K, Ondaatje E, Zakaras L (2001) Guide to the literature on participation in the arts. RAND, Santa MonicaGoogle Scholar
  33. Meloni G, Paolin D, Pulina M (2015) The great beauty: public subsidies in the Italian movie industry. Ital Econ J 1:445–455. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. O’Hagan JW (1998) The state and the arts: an analysis of key economic policy issues in Europe and the United States. Edward Elgar, CheltenhamGoogle Scholar
  35. Parker HN (2011) Toward a definition of popular culture. Hist Theory 50:147–170. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Prieto-Rodríguez J, Fernández-Blanco V (2000) Are popular and classical music listeners the same people? J Cult Econ 24:147–164. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Rowe D (1995) Popular cultures: rock music. Sport and the Politics of Pleasure Sage, LondonGoogle Scholar
  38. Scarborough RC, McCoy CA (2014) Moral reactions to reality TV: television viewers endogenous loci of morality. J Consum Cult 16:164–191. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Scherger S (2009) Cultural practices, age and the life course. Cultural Trends 18:23–45. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Seaman B (2006) Empirical studies of demand for the performing arts. In: Ginsburgh V, Throsby D (eds) Handbook of the economics of art and culture. Elsevier, Amsterdam, pp 416–472Google Scholar
  41. Società Italiana degli Autori ed Editori-SIAE (2007) Annuario dello spettacolo 2006. SIAE, RomeGoogle Scholar
  42. Società Italiana degli Autori ed Editori-SIAE (2008) Annuario dello spettacolo 2007. SIAE, RomeGoogle Scholar
  43. Throsby D (1994) The production and consumption of the arts: a view of cultural economics. J Econ Lit 32:1–29Google Scholar
  44. Toulmin V (2019) Celebrating 250 years of circus. Early Pop Vis Culture Editor. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Trandel GA (1991) The bias due to omitting quality when estimating automobile demand. Rev Econ Stat 73:522–525CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Zanola R (2010a) Major influence on circus attendances. Empir Econ 38:159–170. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Zanola R (2010b) Who likes circus animals? Econ Bulle 30:3315–3320Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Società Italiana degli Economisti (Italian Economic Association) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Economics Statistics and FinanceUniversity of CalabriaRende (Cosenza)Italy
  2. 2.Institute of Public Policy and Public ChoiceUniversity of Eastern PiedmontAlessandriaItaly

Personalised recommendations