The cultural sector represents the 1.7% of total employment in Latin America, according to 2019 data from the study ‘The contribution of culture to economic development in Ibero-America’ prepared by the Organization of Ibero-American States for Education, Science and Culture (OEI) and the UN Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC).
It is a joint regional investigation that presents updated figures on the contribution of culture to the Latin American economy from the official data of the countries in aspects such as supply, consumption, employment, imports, exports and public spending on culture.
According to the study, the public sector continues the downward trend in its participation in cultural jobs: between 2012 and 2019, the participation of the public sector has decreased by 2.3%. On the contrary, the private sector leads the way with 98.6% of the jobs, of which 56% are provided by microenterprises.
Likewise, regarding the composition and conditions of Ibero-American workers in the sector, it stands out that two out of three are men, and most tend to be younger than workers in the total labor market.
This is in addition to the fact that the unemployment rate among cultural workers has been around 26% in eleven Latin American countries (Mercosur plus Mexico and Costa Rica) between July and August 2020, while 55% of those surveyed have reported falls greater than 80% of your income.
The study warns that, in general, there is “a marked deficit” in the region in cultural offer, especially in sectors such as heritage –material, natural and intangible–, as well as in artistic presentations, celebrations and crafts.
However, with the digitization that the sector has experienced, other formats have been strengthened, such as digital books, whose proportion of registered titles ISBN in digital format has gone from 21% to 25% in 2017, reaching the highest proportion of the decade.
With the pandemic, accelerating digitization has driven an unprecedented increase in access to online culture. Regarding consumption, Spain, Brazil, Mexico and Argentina present the figures for the highest participation in cultural activities, and television and radio consumption continues to be the favorite activity in Latin America.
Portugal also stands out, with 46%, it is the Ibero-American country where its citizens most attend museums; For their part, in Spain and Uruguay around a quarter of their population attended a theatrical performance in the last year. Regarding the consumption of books, Chile and Brazil are at the top, in both countries more than two thirds of their inhabitants read at least one book in 2017.
Regarding foreign trade, the study shows that the region imports more than it exports in cultural goods and services. With Mexico and Spain leading the volume of international transactions In this regard, the region’s imports in 2019 have accounted for almost 50 million dollars – 4.4% of the total for the region -, compared to 43 million dollars in exports, which is equivalent to 4.2 % of total Latin American exports that year.
Regarding public spending, the region is close to the common goal of achieving 1% of the total for the region, as agreed at the XVI Summit of Heads of State and Government in 2006, in Montevideo. In 2019, with large differences between countries, shared public spending on culture reached 0.9%, representing 0.23% of Latin American GDP, according to the study.