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The Persistence of Subsistence: Wild Food Harvests in Rural Alaska, 1983-2013

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Document pages: 36 pages

Abstract: Many Alaskans depend on family-centered harvests of wild fish, wildlife, and plants in what could be considered a home production model. State and federal laws provide priorities for these “subsistence uses,” a divisive political issue in Alaska. We explore Alaska’s subsistence economies using community-level demographic, economic, and subsistence harvest estimates from more than 18,000 household surveys administered during 354 projects in 179 Alaska communities. Neither mean subsistence harvests nor mean incomes are significantly associated with time alone. But harvests are associated with time in multiple regression models that explain more than 60 of the variation in mean subsistence harvests per person at the community level. Propensity score matching finds that roads have significant, strong, and negative effects on subsistence harvests, but no significant effects on incomes. Results suggest that – given sustainably managed renewable resources and appropriate levels of exclusion – subsistence economies can co-exist with market economies.

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