In 2018, 15,400 people aged 16-75 years were estimated to have been in cultural employment, according to the Icelandic Labour Force Survey (IS-LFS), accounting for 7.87% of total employment. Within that group 2.8% were employed in cultural industries while 5% were employed in cultural occupations in other industries. Of those 1.5% were employed in cultural occupations in cultural industries.

Statistics on cultural employment are a part of Statistics Iceland’s work on improving economic measures for culture in Iceland.

Cultural employment from the Icelandic Labour Force Survey culture-19

Higher rate of women and self-employed in cultural employment
In 2018, women accounted for 58.4% of cultural employment, compared with 45.1% in other employment. For the past five years, women’s ratio has been consistently higher in cultural employment than in other employment. The proportion of self-employed is also considerably higher within cultural employment. Self-employment was around 23.5% of cultural employment, compared with 11% of other employment, in 2018.


Most employed in the performing arts
According to register based employment, and looking only at those employed in cultural industries, most people were employed in creative arts and entertainment activities (category 90) in 2018 or 15.6%. Libraries, archives, museums and other cultural activities came second (category 91) with 13.7% and publishing activities (category 58) came third with 12.4%. In four digit NACE codes, the performing arts (category 90.01) had the biggest ratio, or 10%.

About the data
This data comes from both the Icelandic Labour Force Survey (IS-LFS) and the register based employment (RBE). Cultural employment refers to the definitions of Eurostat.

In data derived from IS-LFS there is a cross-tabulation of cultural occupations (ÍSTARF95) and cultural industries (ÍSAT08) which Eurostat categorizes as ‘fully cultural’. Cultural employment thus refers to all occupations in cultural industries as well as cultural occupations in other industries.

In RBE data, only industries are included and therefore only those employed in cultural industries are counted. Occupational classifications (ÍSTARF95) are not included in the register.

The Icelandic labor force survey (IS-LFS) is a sample based study where data are collected from participants through telephone interviews. In addition, demographic data are derived from the National Registry. The data are collected continuously throughout the year. The year is divided into four 13-week periods and the sample is about 5,000 individuals each quarter. The sample is divided evenly over the 13 weeks and each participant is asked about their position in the labour market during the reference week of the study as well as other questions, e.g. education and labour market experience. A random sample of 16-74 year olds is drawn from the National Registry and those who are included in the sample are asked about participation in the labour market over a certain period.

Register based employment (RBE) is a count of individuals from monthly tax-registers as well as population data. Tax register data are based on data from the Directorate of internal revenue (DIR) reflecting the settlement agreement of Pay-As-You-Earn (PAYE) tax of wages and salaries and/or presumptive income of the self-employed, as outlined in act No 45/1987. The settlement agreement from DIR has been enriched with added information so that it can be used for the production of official statistics, for instance to be able to distinguish between PAYE tax of wages and salaries from other PAYE tax, such as that of old-age pensions, social security payments and grants. Population data derive from Registers Iceland.