Beggar-thy-neighbor in Art Consumption: Evidence from the “Bel Paese”

This paper contributes to the relatively underdeveloped empirical literature on the demand for culture, testing whether the existence of cultural goods located in one region increases the demand for cultural goods in other regions. The measurement of such spillovers is important to determine the efficient allocation of cultural resources. We develop an empirical test based on aggregate data on the demand and supply of tourism in twenty Italian regions, that we complement with survey data collected data on museums’ visitors in the city of Turin (Piedmont, Italy). We find strong evidence that local supply of culture stimulates the demand for foreign cultural goods, which is coherent with the Theories of Addiction and of “Learning by Consuming.” Given our data the two theories are observationally equivalent. The positive spillovers are large and call for coordinated interventions among the many local governments that finance the supply of cultural attractions.