Making cross-country comparisons of cultural statistics: problems and solutions

Cross-country comparisons are popular in cultural policy.  This paper looks at how cultural statistics are used in the making of such comparisons.The paper documents some of the major problems, in both data production and in data presentation, and provides a 'checklist' of good practice.

In July 2003, the Australia Council for the Arts contracted the International Federation of Arts Councils and Culture Agencies (IFACCA) to undertake international statistical comparisons of Australia's cultural sector.

Cross-country comparisons are fraught with difficulty. Part of the project is to explore what data are available for comparison with Australian data, and to determine the degree of comparability. By doing this, the project also highlights gaps and issues in comparative cultural data.

Because of the exploratory nature of the work, the Australia Council published the project as one of a series of working papers. Each comparison is accompanied by a list of major caveats. The data should not be reproduced without these caveats.

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