Measuring changes in subjective well-being from engagement in the arts, culture and sport

Publication type

Journal Article

Published in

Journal of Cultural Economics


Daniel Wheatley and Craig Bickerton

Publication date


This paper considers change in subjective well-being from engagement in leisure activities, encompassing the arts, culture and sport. Using UK data from waves 2 (2010–2011) and 5 (2013–2014) of Understanding Society, ordered logit, generalized ordered logit, ANCOVA and change score analysis assesses the effects of changing levels of engagement in leisure activities on four measures of subjective well-being, satisfaction with life overall, amount of leisure time, health and job. We find positive changes in (1) life satisfaction from increased engagement in arts events, historical sites and museums, (2) leisure satisfaction from arts activities and events, (3) health satisfaction from arts events and historical sites and (4) well-being measures from increased participation in moderate- and mild-intensity sport. Benefits do not translate to job satisfaction, suggesting a separation of this domain of well-being from leisure. Our analysis suggests important, but differentiated, positive change in well-being from greater engagement in the arts, culture and sport.

Volume and page numbers

43, 421-442





Psychology, Well Being, Sport, Arts and Social Behaviour


Open Access; © The Author(s) 2019; This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made.