Are people who participate in cultural activities more satisfied with life?

Publication type

Journal Article

Published in

Social Indicators Research


Jennifer L. Brown, Ronald MacDonald and Richard Mitchell

Publication date


The influence of various aspects of life on wellbeing has been
extensively researched. However, despite little empirical evidence,
participation in leisure activities has been assumed to increase
subjective wellbeing. Leisure is important because it is more under
personal control than other sources of life satisfaction. This study
asked whether people who participate in cultural leisure activities have
higher life satisfaction than people who do not, if different types of
leisure have the same influence on life satisfaction and if satisfaction
is dependent on the frequency of participation or the number of
activities undertaken. It used data from UKHLS Survey to establish
associations between type, number and frequency of participation in
leisure activities and life satisfaction. Results showed an independent
and positive association of participation in sport, heritage and
active-creative leisure activities and life satisfaction but not for
participation in popular entertainment, theatre hobbies and
museum/galleries. The association of reading hobbies and
sedentary-creative activities and life satisfaction was negative. High
life satisfaction was associated with engaging in a number of different
activities rather than the frequency of participation in each of them.
The results have implications for policy makers and leisure services
providers, in particular those associated with heritage recreation.
Subjective wellbeing measures, such as life satisfaction, and not
economic measures alone should be considered in the evaluation of
services. The promotion of leisure activities which are active and
promote social interaction should be considered in programmes aimed at
improving the quality of life.

Volume and page numbers

122, 135-146





Time Use, Well Being, Health, Sport and Arts


Not held in Research Library - bibliographic reference only