During recent decades, most Western European countries and the US have seen massive investments in culture houses designed to host cultural activities like theatre performances, concerts and exhibitions. They are often large with spectacular architectural design, and the main political purpose is often to attract the attention of potential tourists, investors and future residents who could contribute to the economic and demographic development of places. The existing literature contains mainly single case studies of successful places. There is a lack of comprehensive and systematic evidence of the causal effects of new culture houses on attraction and migration. This paper sets out to fill this gap by investigating the effect on migration of the opening of 52 culture houses in Norway in the period 2001–2014; the study uses a panel data structure and a difference-in-difference approach, and the impact of an architectural ‘wow factor’ is tested. The results show that no causal effect on migration of opening a culture house can be identified. The results contradict political rhetoric in many Western countries, and the results have relevance for local politicians who are responsible for planning of local culture and economic development.
Bibliographical noteEpub ahead of print. Published online: 28 Jan 2021.
- Local development
- Culture houses
- Causal effects