Culture in the Nordic Region

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Everybody consumes culture but there are significant differences between the Nordic countries in terms of the types of culture and how much of it individuals consume. The cultural statistics provide insight into how much money is spent on culture, how many people work in the sector, and how many people attend different types of events.

Public spending on culture

A relatively large proportion of public expenditure in the Nordic Region is allocated to culture. Iceland spends a particularly high proportion of per capita GDP on it. Although in recent years the trend has varied greatly from country to country, the overall trend is towards relative increases in public spending on culture.

Public spending on culture as % of GDP


Iceland is also the Nordic country with the greatest number of people working in culture. Across all of the Nordic countries, women are overrepresented in the workforce in the culture sector.

Jobs in culture sector as % of total employment. 2021


Cinemas are still popular. Icelanders are at the top of the Nordic rankings for cinema attendance, with 3.4 visits p.a. At the other end of the scale are the Swedes, with an average of 1.5.

Number of cinema visits per capita: 2019.

More facts about culture

The Nordic statistics database for culture contains data for the number of libraries, published books, cinemas, theatres, jobs in the culture sector and public spending on culture. 

The Swedish Agency for Cultural Policy Analysis also conducts analyses and studies of Nordic culture. The Agency is a Nordic knowledge centre that regularly analyses cultural policy trends and effects in the Nordic Region, i.e. Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden, as well as the self-governing territories of the Faroe Islands, Greenland and Åland. It looks at questions from different cultural perspectives and analyses relevant data.


The State of the Nordic Region contains analyses, figures and statistics about culture in the Nordic countries presented from a regional angle. 

Further information on culture and Nordic co-operation is available here