Making Sense of the Numbers:
Estimating Arts Participation in America
Working Paper #4, 1998
Steven J. Tepper
This article explores why estimates of arts participation in
America diverge dramatically. It focuses on two similar surveys
- the General Social Survey (GSS) and the Survey of Public Participation
in the Arts (SPPA) - that produced very different estimates of
attendance at museums, classical music concerts and dance performances.
Comparing the design of each survey, this paper examines several
possible explanations to account for the divergent estimates,
including sample composition and selection bias, question wording
and context, and survey design.
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