It’s no secret that liberal arts colleges across the U.S. are riddled with rich kids—often of a particular racial variety that tends to outnumber people of color. Self-evident as it may seem that trust-fund youth are less plagued by the fiscal risk inherent in majoring in poetry (or God forbid, DJing), a new study highlights the positive correlation between a wealthier background and an individual’s likelihood of pursuing an artistic profession.
The study, the result of economics professor, Karol Jan Borowiecki’s poring over more than 150 years’ worth of census data, shows those raised in high-income households are about twice as likely to take up creative ventures than their counterparts from low-income families with annual earnings of half the size, with the rate of likelihood increasing about 2 percent with every $10,000 annual increment. Essentially, a combined household income of $100,000 makes one twice as likely to become an artist than that of an individual who comes from a combined household income of $50,000. The findings are quite intuitive actually, considering the thorny stipulations of a full-time creative endeavor are often smoothed by the promise of a parental insurance policy, should life as an experimental film score engineer go up in flames down the line.
Also low in shock value is the study’s finding that creative professionals, on average, bank considerably less per year than their non-creative peers. This fact, accompanied by the chronic time constraints of creative careers, undoubtedly contributes to Borowiecki’s report that artists tend to have smaller families, by about one less member on average. So, artists are considerably more likely to not get married and/or have fewer or no kids.
However, perhaps more revelatory is Borowiecki’s discovery that women are 18 percent more likely to take up creative professions than men, with the former’s demographic dominion in the artistic space spanning all the way back to 1890.
The gap between white and non-white creative professionals is slowly, but steadily, narrowing, the data shows. It’s important to note, though, the study’s citing of the probable under-representation of non-whites categorized as artists by U.S. census officials, especially in earlier years. The music industry, according to the findings, has the highest presence of non-white individuals: a resounding no sh*t notion when considering the seemingly interminable length of musical genres (jazz, funk, blues) devised and pioneered by black artists, in particular.
It seems making it big on the Billboard charts isn’t just about who you know; it’s about how much your parents put away. Some are born with talent, some simply with the right resources.