People and Their Preferences: Exploring drivers of support for the arts in the United States
This paper explores the drivers of individual preferences for public funding of the arts. A great deal of qualitative research speaks to the impact of the arts on marginalized and economically disadvantaged individuals and communities. In the United States, federal agencies appropriate significant funding to arts organizations and agencies providing resources and art programs to those beneficiaries. However, appropriations to the NEA are unstable and particularly sensitive to economic, social, and political shocks. Understanding which populations value the arts as a public good may lend invaluable insights for policymakers lobbying for increased support of such programs. In this paper, I use an ordered probit econometric model to examine this relationship and identify a significant correlation between political affiliation and preference for public funding of the arts and humanities. I find that political ideology is the characteristic most closely correlated with public funding of the arts, with liberals being significantly more likely to prefer public funding of the arts, while conservative voters are much likelier to value decreased public funding of the arts. I also identify that, when interacted with political ideology, income levels also influence the decision to support increased or decreased public funding for the arts.
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