5271.0.55.001 - Discussion Paper: Cultural and Creative Activity Satellite Accounts, Australia, 2013  
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In Australia and internationally, there is strong interest in the role of ‘cultural’ and ‘creative’ activity in the economy, such as highlighted recently by Australia’s National Cultural Policy Creative Australia. These terms are often used to describe activities connected with the arts, media, heritage, design, fashion and information technology.

The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) publishes a compendium of statistics for selected cultural and creative activities in Arts and Culture in Australia: A Statistical Overview (cat. no. 4172.0). However there remains a need – particularly in government and academia – for holistic estimates of the economic contribution made by cultural and creative activity in Australia.

To advance the development of these economic measures, the ABS has conducted a study on the feasibility of producing cultural and creative activity satellite accounts for Australia. The feasibility study has been undertaken in consultation with the federal and state government organisations comprising the Cultural Ministers’ Statistics Working Group, and with Australian academics.


Satellite accounts provide economic estimates for selected areas of interest in a manner that is linked to, but distinct from, the national accounts. The national accounts are a comprehensive set of economic data which are fully consistent and complete within the boundary of the economic activities they cover. The national accounts record the essential elements of the economy: production, income, consumption, accumulation of assets and liabilities, and wealth. Gross domestic product (GDP) is perhaps the most recognisable and important economic statistic included.

A detailed explanation of the national accounts is available in Australian System of National Accounts: Concepts, Sources and Methods (cat. no. 5216.0). The main national accounts published by the ABS can be found in:

  • Australian National Accounts: National Income, Expenditure and Product (cat. no. 5206.0)
  • Australian System of National Accounts (cat. no. 5204.0)
  • Australian National Accounts: Financial Accounts (cat. no. 5232.0)
  • Australian National Accounts: Input-Output Tables (cat. no. 5209.0.55.001)
  • Australian National Accounts: Input-Output Tables (Product Details) (cat. no. 5215.0.55.001)
  • Australian National Accounts: State Accounts (cat. no. 5220.0).

These publications are closely followed by government and private sector economists, the media, and others to evaluate the performance of the economy including individual sectors, states/territories, industries and products.

Satellite accounts expand on national accounts by providing additional detail or by utilising alternative classifications or concepts (this can include covering an alternative boundary of activities). To date the ABS has published satellite accounts for several areas of interest:
  • Australian National Accounts: Tourism Satellite Account (cat. no. 5249.0) draws out the economic contribution of tourism, which is implicitly included in the national accounts but not separately identified as an industry or product.
  • Australian National Accounts: Non-Profit Institutions Satellite Account (cat. no. 5256.0) draws out the economic contribution of non-profit institutions (NPIs), and extends beyond the activity boundary of the national accounts to include volunteer services and the non-market output of market producers.
  • Australian National Accounts: Information and Communication Technology Satellite Account (cat. no. 5259.0) draws out the economic contribution of the industries and products associated with ‘ICT’.

Satellite accounts for cultural and/or creative activity have been published by government agencies for other nations including Canada1, Finland2, the United Kingdom3 and Spain4. Relevant statistical frameworks have also been released by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO)5 and the European Commission6. These works have been considered as part of the ABS’ feasibility study.


The feasibility study has been conducted by the ABS to:
  • Clarify what stakeholders need from the satellite accounts (see section 2)
  • Develop practical definitions of cultural and creative activity for use in the satellite accounts (see section 3)
  • Identify a suitable statistical model for the accounts and the availability of data to fit the model (see section 4)
  • Identify remedies for significant data gaps (see section 5)
  • Prioritise the actions required to develop and/or improve the quality of the satellite accounts (see section 6)

This discussion paper shares the feasibility study’s findings, which provide a basis for coherent longer-term investment in this area of statistics. Feedback or inquiries from stakeholders are welcome and will be considered for an upcoming ABS information paper on this topic. Feedback or inquiries should be forwarded by 30 August 2013 to:
    Assistant Director
    National Centre for Culture and Recreation Statistics
    Australian Bureau of Statistics
    GPO Box 2272
    Adelaide SA 5001
    E-mail: nccrs@abs.gov.au

1 Statistics Canada (2004), Economic Contribution of Culture in Canada, <http://www.statcan.gc.ca/pub/81-595-m/81-595-m2004023-eng.pdf>.
2 Ministry of Education (2009), Culture Satellite Account: Final report of pilot project, <http://www.minedu.fi/export/sites/default/OPM/Julkaisut/2009/liitteet/opm13.pdf?lang=fi>.
3 Department for Culture, Media and Sport (2011), Creative Industries Economic Estimates: Full Statistical Release, <https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/77959/Creative-Industries-Economic-Estimates-Report-2011-update.pdf>.
4 Ministry of Culture (2011), Satellite Account on Culture in Spain: Advance of 2000-2009 results, <http://www.mcu.es/estadisticas/docs/CSCE/advance_results_csce-2011.pdf>.
5 United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) (2009), 2009 UNESCO Framework for Cultural Statistics, <http://www.uis.unesco.org/culture/Documents/framework-cultural-statistics-culture-2009-en.pdf>.
6 European Commission (2012), ESSnet-Culture: European Statistical System Network on Culture – Final Report, <http://ec.europa.eu/culture/our-policy-development/documents/ess-net-report-oct2012.pdf>.