Study finds attending plays feels as good as a pay rise

Photo: Pawel Libera
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People who attend plays have a level of wellbeing equivalent to the amount of happiness derived from a £1,000 annual income increase, new research on the social impacts of culture has found.

The publication, Quantifying and Valuing the Wellbeing Impacts of Culture and Sport, has found that audience members who watch at least two plays a year report personal wellbeing that can be valued at £83 per month.

Those attending more than one music performance in a year have levels of happiness that can be equated to a £62 increase per month, the report added.

However, the research, commissioned by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport, showed that participating in sports and using libraries both resulted in a higher sense of wellbeing, equivalent to £94 and £113 per month respectively.

The report’s authors, researchers at the London School of Economics, used a new method to obtain the results, which is based on measures of wellbeing achieved by increases in income. They have also written another report for the DCMS, called Quantifying the Social Impacts of Culture and Sport.

This found that audience members at plays are 2.5% more likely to report good health than those who do not attend.

Therefore those people going to plays are less likely to visit their GPs than non-attenders, which indicates a saving to the National Health Service of about £17 per person in a year, the authors claimed.

“People in good health will also incur less health costs elsewhere, such as medication, which these figures do not capture and so this could lead to an underestimate of the value of health benefits,” they said.