Creative Economies

Creative Economy Switzerland

The 2016 report approached the Swiss creative industries for the first time from the perspective of professional activities and occupations. (1) This new approach rests on the assumption that creative occupations also exist outside the creative industries: “ This methodology is based on the theoretical and empirical argument that the creative industries are ‘those industries that specialise in the employment of creative talent for commercial purposes’ — that is, have unusually high proportions of their workforce employed in creative occupations (‘creative intensity’).” (2)

According to “Dynamic Mapping,” a methodology developed by the innovation foundation Nesta, (3) a set of creative occupations is first identified. Subsequently, all industries of the economy are analysed for their share of creative occupations (“creative intensity”). Those industries with a certain minimum share of creative occupations and activities are then referred to as “creative,” the rest as “non-creative.” (4) Finally, creative economy employment is estimated according to the “Creative Trident” approach. (5) Creative economy employment is given by the sum of creative industries employment and all creative jobs in other industries (“embedded” jobs). Following UK’s DCMS ,(6) this concept can be represented as follows:

Source figure 1: FSO, SLFS; own calculations Statistical Office Canton of Zurich and Zurich University of the Arts

The creative economy thus consists of three types of employees:

  1. Non–specialists (support): employed persons working in a creative industry, but who are not themselves employed in a creative occupation, for instance, a bookkeeper at a publishing company.
  2. Specialists: persons working in creative occupations in creative industries, for instance, a dancer in an ensemble or a journalist writing for a daily newspaper.
  3. Embedded: persons working in creative occupations outside the creative industries, for instance, a game designer working in financial services.

This report applies this approach to Switzerland for the second time. Based on occupational and industries classifications according to UK’s DCMS and Nesta, we estimate the overall size of Swiss creative economy and its three main components (specialist, nonspecialist, and embedded employment) using the Swiss Labour Force Survey (SLFS). (7)

The Swiss Creative Economy

Table 1 shows employment in the Swiss creative economy in the period 2014 – 2016 and the average for these three years.

Source table 1: FSO, SLFS; own calculations Statistical Office Canton of Zurich and Zurich University of the Arts

Between 2014 and 2016, about 477,000 people were employed in the Swiss creative economy on average. About one half (241,000) were employed in the creative industries, while the other half (236,000) pursued a creative occupation outside the creative industries (“embedded ”) in the wider creative economy.

If only those people with a creative profession, the so-called creative occupations (351,000) are considered, around two thirds (236,000) earn their living outside the creative industries. These figures can also be displayed in a “Creative Trident ” format, which presents industries as columns and occupations as rows.

Source tables 2: FSO, SLFS; own calculations Statistical Office Canton of Zurich and Zurich University of the Arts

This table also shows the relationship to the Swiss overall economy. Creative economy employees, calculated as the sum of the three shaded fields, account for about one out of ten jobs in Switzerland. The figures calculated for Switzerland’s total creative economy can be shown for individual industry groups.

Source table 3: FSO, SLFS; own calculations Statistical Office Canton of Zurich and Zurich University of the Arts

The table shows that the relation between “specialists” and “non-specialists” differs in the creative industries. While the proportion of “specialists” predominates in architecture, it is the opposite in music and in the performing and visual arts, for example. A preliminary interpretation might be that productions in these fields are more staff-intensive and more diversified than the core services of the architecture market.

The relation between the creative industries and “embedded ” is similar. While the high value for advertising and marketing (68,000 compared to 21,000) indicates that these occupations are decentralised and can be found strongly outside the advertising industry, the comparatively low value for museums, galleries and libraries (6,000 compared to 15,000) can be interpreted the other way round. However, these are merely preliminary interpretations, which need to be deepened in exchange with industry experts.

Table 4 shows the size and the different relation between “specialist ” “non-specialist ” and “embedded ” workforce for the individual creative economy groups.

Source tables 4: FSO, SLFS; own calculations Statistical Office Canton of Zurich and Zurich University of the Arts

Relating the number of “specialists” to overall creative industries figures enables Nesta to calculate so-called “creative intensity.” These figures enable statements on whether a large number of specialised workforce are employed in an industry group or if the share of support functions (“non-specialists”) is correspondingly larger.

Source table 5: FSO, SLFS; own calculations Statistical Office Canton of Zurich and Zurich University of the Arts

Further analyses on the creative economy are published periodically at


  1. Weckerle, Christoph / Page, Roman / Grand, Simon: Kreativwirtschaftsbericht Schweiz 2016, 2nd Swiss Creative Industries Report, CreativeEconomies, Zürich, 2016.
  2. Bakhshi, Hasan / Hargreaves, Ian / Mateos-Garcia, Juan: A Manifesto for the Creative Economy. Nesta, London 2013.
  3. Bakhshi, Hasan / Freeman, Alan / Higgs, Peter: A Dynamic Mapping of the UK’s Creative Industries. Nesta, London 2013.
  4. For the detailed classification of Creative Occupations (ISCO-Codes) and Creative Industries (NOGA/NACE-Codes), see the methodological details at
  5. Higgs, Peter / Cunningham, Stuart / Bakhshi, Hasan: Beyond the Creative Industries: Mapping the Creative Economy in the United Kingdom. Nesta, London 2008.
  6. Department for Culture Media and Sport: Creative Industries Economic Estimates: January 2015. DCMS, London 2015.
  7. Detailed notes on methodology can be found at