Recent Submissions

  • Capstone Phase I Interim Safety Study, 2000/2001

    Institute of Social and Economic Research, University of Alaska., 2002
    The FAA Alaska Region’s Capstone program is a joint initiative with industry to improve aviation safety and efficiency in Alaska, by using new tools and technology to provide infrastructure and services. The first phase of Capstone is in southwest Alaska, primarily in the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta (Y-K Delta). This technology is most likely to help prevent mid-air collisions and controlled-flight-into- terrain (CFIT) accidents, which make up only a small part of the small-plane accidents in southwest Alaska but are the most likely to cause deaths. Aside from helping prevent accidents, the technology is designed to make it easier for pilots to fly—by making it easier to navigate, by providing more current weather information, and by making instrument landings possible when weather deteriorates. To learn the benefits and limitations of these new tools and technologies, the Capstone program contracted with the University of Alaska Anchorage’s Institute of Social and Economic Research and the Aviation Technology Division to evaluate aviation safety changes in the Capstone area. This Capstone Interim Safety Report describes those changes through the end of 2001.
  • Alaska's Construction Spending Forecast: 2007

    Killorin, Mary; Goldsmith, Scott (Institute of Social and Economic Research, University of Alaska., 2007)
    Uncertainty in the forecast for 2007 comes from several sources. The decline in the crude oil price in recent months may cause some firms working in the oil patch to re-evaluate their capital budget decisions and slow their rate of investment in exploration and development. All sectors of the industry are continuing to experience rapid increases in construction material costs that will undoubtedly cause some projects to be canceled or postponed, as has been the case in the last several years.
  • The Contribution of ANILCA to Alaska's Economy

    Colt, Steve (Institute of Social and Economic Research, University of Alaska., 2005)
    This paper presents an assessment of the economic contribution of ANILCA and ANILCA-protected ecosystems to Alaska’s economy. I consider the links between the conservation units designated by the Act and a healthy Alaska economy. The paper consists largely of synthesis and application of existing data and research. It does not consider global ecosystem services or other values that are not currently captured within the Alaska economy. ANILCA was a one-time “natural experiment.” It is not possible, therefore, to observe how the Alaska economy would have evolved absent ANILCA. This makes it difficult if not impossible to say that the Act itself “caused” much of anything. Instead, the best we can do is to say that the data are consistent – or inconsistent -- with certain broad hypotheses and conclusions.
  • Summary of 2006 Southcentral Energy Forum

    Cravez, Pamela; Goldsmith, Scott; Larsen, Peter (Institute of Social and Economic Research, University of Alaska., 2006)
    Nearly 70% of Alaskans rely on relatively inexpensive natural gas from Cook Inlet. That gas heats homes and businesses, generates electricity, and fuels industrial processes. But growing demand has depleted 80% of the known Cook Inlet gas reserves. Many Alaskans are concerned about where Southcentral Alaska will get affordable energy in the future. The information presented here is not a product of ISER research. It is a summary of statements, opinions, and projections of those attending the forum.
  • Economic Impacts of BSAI Crab Rationalization on Kodiak Fishing Employment and Earnings and Kodiak Businesses: A Preliminary Analysis.

    Knapp, Gunnar (Institute of Social and Economic Research, University of Alaska., 2006)
    This study was requested by the City of Kodiak to analyze how crab rationalization has affected crab fishing jobs and earnings of Kodiak residents and sales of Kodiak businesses. The study is limited to these issues. It does not address many other important issues raised by crab rationalization. There are significant challenges in studying economic effects of crab rationalization on Kodiak. There are important differences between crab fisheries, and within each fishery there are differences in boat sizes, vessel ownership, quota allocation, and many other factors which affect how quota is fished. Many factors besides rationalization affect crab fisheries, and many factors besides crab fisheries affect Kodiak’s economy—making it difficult to identify the specific effects of crab rationalization on Kodiak. Since rationalization began in the 2005/06 season, there have been very rapid and dramatic changes in the crab fisheries. Between the 2004/05 and 2005/06 seasons, vessel registration declined by about two-thirds for the Bristol Bay Red King Crab (BBR) fishery and by about one-half for the Bering Sea Snow Crab (BSS) fishery.1
  • University of Alaska Research: An Economic Enterprise (2007 Update)

    Goldsmith, Scott (2007)
    Nearly $50 billion of the $312 billion of total U.S. research and development expenditures in 2004 (preliminary) consisted of university research. Excluding federally funded research and development centers administered by universities, like the Los Alamos National Laboratory, total research-related revenues of U.S. universities were $43 billion in FY 2004, continuing a positive trend stretching back at least to the early 1950s. The federal government is the largest source of funding for university research, accounting for 64 percent in 2004. Internal university funding (institutional funding) is next in order of importance, contributing 18 percent of the total. State and local governments account for nearly 7 percent, as does the category of other (including nonprofit organizations). Private industry is the smallest category of contributor, providing less than 5 percent. Total research and development spending (including not only academic but also government and private research) in Alaska in 2003, the most recent year for which complete information is available, was $321 million. Alaska ranked 48th among the states, consistent with the size of its economy, measured by gross state product. Academic research was a higher share of total research and development, as reflected by Alaska’s rank of 43rd among the states. This paper updates the June 2004 ISER analysis entitled The Economics of University Research.
  • Village Wind Diesel Hydrogen Report

    Gilbert, Steve; Colt, Steve (Institute of Social and Economic Research, University of Alaska., 2006)
    The cost of energy in hub and satellite villages has long been a major contributor to the cost of living in rural Alaska. Wind energy currently displaces a portion of the diesel fuel used for power generation in 5 Alaskan villages; Kotzebue, Selawick, Tooksook Bay, Wales and Saint Paul Island. Numerous other villages are being considered as potential sites for integration of wind generation into the diesel electric system. Wind diesel electric systems are showing promise as sources of long term flat priced electricity for village power needs. Since the price of wind doesn’t change the cost of the wind generated component of electricity is not subject to fuel price volatility. As with any renewable energy the upfront capital cost is higher than diesel engines. Wind diesel alone however, does not address the broader energy needs of rural communities. Fuels such as gasoline, diesel and heating oil have to be transported to the village. This report explores the potential of using wind to produce hydrogen for transportation and heating fuels at a small, 400 person and large, 4000 person village.
  • How Much Different Are Costs Amongst Alaska School Districts?

    Tuck, Bradford; Berman, Matthew; Hill, Alexandra (Institute of Social and Economic Research, University of Alaska., 2005)
    The big differences among Alaska’s school districts—in remoteness, climate, community amenities, and energy sources—also mean big differences in school operating costs. ISER’s new estimates of the geographic cost differences among Alaska’s 53 districts range from 7 percent to more than 100 percent above costs in Anchorage. The existing differentials are set in state law and have been used since 1998; the legislature will decide whether to adopt any changes. Keep in mind that the differentials are just one factor in a complex formula used to determine aid for individual districts. That formula begins with a base amount per student, for students in all districts, that the legislature sets each year. The proposed differentials are higher than the existing ones, which range from 1 to 70 percent above Anchorage’s costs. This summary is based on a more detailed report, Alaska School District Cost Study Update, by Bradford Tuck, Matthew Berman, and Alexandra Hill.
  • Alaska School District Cost Study (2005 Update)

    Hill, Alexandra; Berman, Matthew; Tuck, Bradford (Institute of Social and Economic Research, University of Alaska., 2005)
    The Legislative Budget and Audit Committee of the Alaska Legislature has asked The Institute of Social and Economic Research (ISER) at the University of Alaska Anchorage to make certain changes and adjustments to the Geographic Cost of Education Index (GCEI) that the American Institutes for Research (AIR) constructed and reported on in Alaska School District Cost Study (January 2003). The requested changes address a number of the questions and criticisms that were raised by ISER in its review of the AIR study (A Review of Alaska School District Cost Study, January 29, 2004). The specific tasks included updating data sets, adjusting the index for actual energy costs, and reviewing travel and budget share assumptions. The most significant task was to address deficiencies in AIR’s certificated personnel compensation component that had been identified in ISER’s initial review. ISER was also asked to re- estimate the overall cost index, once other tasks were accomplished.
  • Agent-Based Modeling of the Bristol Bay Drift Gillnet Salmon Fishery

    Chasco, Brandon; Knapp, Gunnar; Hilborn, Ray (School of Aquatic & Fishery Sciences, University of Washington, 2006)
    Alaska’s Bristol Bay sockeye salmon fishery is the world’s largest fishery for this species. Between 1980 and 2005, annual catches averaged 24 million fish, with an annual average ex-vessel value of US$165 million. Historically, the Bristol Bay sockeye salmon fishery has accounted for 20-40% of the total value of Alaska salmon fisheries. Similar to most other Alaska salmon fisheries, Bristol Bay fisheries are managed to achieve escapement goals for several major river systems flowing into Bristol Bay. Fish- ing is allowed during period “openings” over the season to catch returning salmon surplus to escapement goals. In general, the current management system is reasonably successful from a biological point of view, in the sense that managers are usually able to control fishing effort to achieve escapement goals. Our initial fishery data analysis supports key model relationships that we have hypothesized have important implications for how prices, runs, and management may affect the Bristol Bay fishery. For example, the higher the ex-vessel value of the fishery, the more rapid the rate of permit outmigration from the Bristol Bay region.
  • The Past and Future of LNG in Alaska

    Tussing, Arlon R. (Institute of Social and Economic Research, University of Alaska., 2005)
    Why do negotiations between the State and the North Slope gas producers ignore LNG [liquefied natural gas] export proposals, including that of the Alaska Gasline Port Authority [AGPA]? The three main North Slope gas producers [ConocoPhillips, BP and ExxonMobil], and Alaska’s Murkowski Administration, agree that an overland pipeline from Prudhoe Bay, crossing Canada to the U.S. Midwest, is the most promising transport system under present and foreseeable conditions, for marketing Arctic gas. Nevertheless, plans to ship LNG in “cryogenic” [low-pressure refrigerated] tankers from a Southcentral Alaska port such as Valdez or Kenai, to the Lower 48 or East Asia remain technically plausible marketing alternatives to a transcontinental gas pipeline. Currently, the most prominent proposal for such an alternative is sponsored by the Alaska Gasline Port Authority [AGPA], a coalition of three municipalities—the North Slope and Fairbanks North Star Boroughs, and the City of Valdez—which are located North to South along the route of the TransAlaska oil pipeline from the Arctic Ocean to Prince William Sound.
  • Kids Count Alaska 2002

    Hanna, Virgene; Lampman, Claudia (Institute of Social and Economic Research, University of Alaska., 2002)
    Since we published the first Kids Count Alaska data book in 1996, Alaska’s children and teenagers have seen changes for the better and for the worse. This information comes from many sources, as cited in the tables and figures. Our contribution is mostly pulling it all together—to help adults see trends and think about how to make life healthier and safer for Alaska’s children. In this data book, we look at (1) the indicators of children’s well-being the Kids Count program uses nationwide; and (2) other measures that reflect conditions Alaskan children face— and that illustrate the sharp differences among regions of a state twice the size of the 13 original American colonies.
  • Task 1 and 2 Reports to the Regulatory Commission of Alaska: Affordability Factors and Affordability Standards

    Tuck, Bradford; Schwartzberg, Lisa (Institute of Social and Economic Research, University of Alaska., 2006)
    Because affordability is essentially an issue of fairness, or equity, it is ultimately the task of the public policymaker to define “affordability” and to indicate factors to be considered in measuring “affordability.” We look first at factors that might be considered in discussing affordability. The FCC has addressed the issue of affordable universal service in some detail and has suggested principles that should be taken into account when policymakers attempt to determine affordable rates for telephone service. Major portions of that discussion are incorporated into Section II of the Task 1 report. Identification of potential variables that might be used to measure the factors influencing affordability is contained in Section III, and is organized around identified factors. Additional material is included in the appendix. Consideration of alternative affordability standards is incorporated in the present report, as well as suggestions we received from carriers in Section IV. Summary comments and observations are presented in Section V. Task 2 collected and analyzed a broad range of data, including extensive information from the 2000 U.S. Decennial Census and other U.S. sources, data from the Regulatory Commission of Alaska, survey results from Alaska Local Exchange Carriers, and other state sources.
  • Estimating Future Costs for Alaska Public Infrastructure At Risk from Climate Change

    Saylor, Ben; Larsen, Peter; Goldsmith, Scott; Wilson, Meghan; Smith, Orson; Strzepek, Ken; Chinowsky, Paul (Institute of Social and Economic Research, University of Alaska., 2007)
    Scientists expect Alaska’s climate to get warmer in the coming years— and the changing climate could make it roughly 10% to 20% more expensive to build and maintain public infrastructure in Alaska between now and 2030 and 10% more expensive between now and 2080. These are the first estimates of how much climate change might add to future costs for public infrastructure in Alaska, and they are preliminary. “Public infrastructure” means all the federal, state, and local infrastructure that keeps Alaska functioning: roads, bridges, airports, harbors, schools, military bases, post offices, fire stations, sanitation systems, the power grid, and more. Privately owned infrastructure will also be affected by climate change, but this analysis looks only at public infrastructure.
  • Spending Patterns of Selected Alaska Bear Viewers: Preliminary Results from a Survey

    Colt, Steve; Dugan, Darcy (Institute of Social and Economic Research, University of Alaska., 2005)
    The Institute of Social and Economic Research (ISER) at the University of Alaska Anchorage developed and conducted a Web-based survey of 219 traveling parties who went on a bear viewing excursion from the Homer area during the summer of 2004. All of the bear viewing excursions were taken with one business. The survey was developed in February 2005 and administered over the Web during the period 11 February through 2 March 2005. Respondents were contacted by individual email messages using email addresses that they had voluntarily provided at the time of their excursion. Most bear viewers (69%) in the sample come from lower-48 U.S. states. About 20% come from foreign countries. Only about 10% come from Alaska. About one-third of the respondents stated that bear viewing was the primary purpose of their trip to Alaska. People in the sample spent an average of about 17 days on their trips – far longer than the overall Alaska summer tourism average of about 10 days.
  • Kids Count Alaska 2004

    Lampman, Claudia; Hanna, Virgene (Institute of Social and Economic Research, University of Alaska., 2004)
    This year we look at adoption. Nearly 4% of children in Alaska are adopted, according to the 2000 U.S. census - the biggest share in any state. We also show the personal face of adoption. Other information contained in this issue include statistics on infancy, economic well-being, education, children in danger and juvenile justice.
  • United or Divided Twins? The Political Economy of Beringia

    Tussing, Arlon R.; Tichotsky, John (Russian Federation Printing Committee, 2004)
    When the US purchased Alaska from the Russians in1867 it quickly stepped into Russia's role in the colonial relationship. The US exploited salmon as the primary base resource from about 1878. Gold was discovered in lode deposits in the 1880s in the southeast of Alaska (Juneau and Treadwell), about the same time as the Lena goldfields of Irkutsk began to step up operations. We anticipate that Alaska contains or has demonstrated most of the elements that we can expect to see in the foreseeable development of other post-Soviet Arctic regions, including Alaska's nearest neighbor Chukotka, one of Russia's poorest and least modernized regions. This article was written for the 'Beringia' issue of the Northern Expanses journal which was a joint effort of the US National Park Service as part of the International Decade of Indigenous People.
  • Salmon Restructuring: Changing Alaska's Salmon Harvesting System: What are the challenges?

    Knapp, Gunnar; Ulmer, Fran (Institute of Social and Economic Research, University of Alaska., 2005)
    The Chignik fishing co-op is a cautionary tale about why restructuring in Alaska’s salmon fisheries is so hard and so controversial—and why it’s unlikely to happen until Alaskans clarify their goals for the fisheries and establish ways to achieve those goals. It won’t be easy to make changes in Alaska’s salmon harvesting system. Not everyone will benefit; some people could end up worse off. But the costs of doing nothing are also high. Thousands of Alaskans have already seen severe losses in fishing income and in boat and permit values, and many have had to quit fishing for salmon. Salmon is no longer Alaska’s dominant resource industry. But it remains a mainstay of many communities, and if the industry is to become and remain profitable, we need to face—and find ways of addressing—the complex, difficult issue of restructuring. This summary is based upon a longer paper by the same authors, "Challenges in Restructuring Alaska’s Salmon Fisheries" (2004).
  • Challenges in Restructuring Alaska's Salmon Fisheries

    Ulmer, Fran; Knapp, Gunnar (Institute of Social and Economic Research, University of Alaska., 2004)
    Over the past fifteen years, Alaska’s salmon industry has experienced dramatic losses in income, market share, permit and boat values, and tax revenues to communities and the state. The economic crisis in the salmon industry—driven by competition from farmed salmon and other factors—has prompted numerous task forces and summits to call for improved quality, new products, better marketing, and other measures to enable Alaska’s salmon industry to compete more effectively in world salmon markets. However, there has been relatively little discussion of restructuring Alaska’s salmon fisheries....In this paper, we argue that public debate and action on restructuring have been limited by several factors: the complexity and controversial nature of restructuring, the absence of leadership on this issue from either the industry or government, and the ambiguity of responsibility and authority within state government for the economic success of Alaska’s fisheries. The Board of Fisheries and the Alaska Department of Fish and Game have a clear mandate to conserve Alaska’s salmon and authority to enact regulations necessary to achieve that objective. But that mandate and authority do not extend to the more complex and difficult objective of managing Alaska’s salmon resources for the “maximum benefit” of Alaskans, as the Alaska Constitution requires. Editor’s Note (September 2005): Fran Ulmer and Gunnar Knapp wrote this paper in November 2004. Near the end of the paper, they discuss the Chignik salmon cooperative and the then-pending Alaska Supreme Court decision about whether the Board of Fisheries had the authority to issue an allocation to the co-op. Page 34 says, “if the Supreme Court upholds the decision of the Superior Court [that the Board did have this authority], it will have the effect of extending the extent to which the board has clear authority to restructure fisheries for economic purposes.” Since the paper was written, there have been several court decisions affecting the status of the Chignik fishing cooperative. The fundamental legal issues at stake relate to the board’s authority and the legislature’s intent in the Limited Entry Act. As of fall 2005, the future of the co-op was uncertain, pending a final ruling by the Alaska Supreme Court. This continuing legal battle reinforces a central point of the paper: that absence of clear authority to make changes in fishery management represents an important obstacle to restructuring. The authors have also written a more recent short paper on restructuring, “Changing Alaska’s Salmon Harvesting System: What Are the Challenges?” in Understanding Alaska, Research Summary No. 5, September 2005.
  • The Morel Mushroom Industry in Alaska: Current Status and Potential

    Wurtz, Tricia; Wiita, Amy Lynn (Institute of Social and Economic Research, University of Alaska., 2004)
    Morel mushrooms (Morchella spp.) collected in the U.S. Pacific Northwest are a non-timber forest product with considerable economic significance. Little information exists on the commercial harvest potential of morel mushrooms in Alaska’s boreal forest. We investigated current uses of morels in Alaska, the potential for and constraints to development of an Alaska morel industry and potential resource management and business development implications. We found that the morel mushroom industry in Alaska is small with few morel harvesters. Morels are harvested for personal and commercial use. Commercial morel harvesting is minimal due to the inaccessibility and unreliable production of morels and the long distances to markets. Permits are rarely issued by state or federal land managers for morel harvesting. The high capital investment for buyers, delayed return on the investment, need for direct product-marketing and creative marketing skills and an inconsistent supply of morels are prominent reasons there are not more businesses involved in an Alaska morel industry. Alaska appears to be best suited for a dried morel industry and a limited fresh morel market near cities and in local communities where there is a demand in local restaurants. Dried morels from Alaska could be marketed creatively and developed as a small cottage industry that capitalizes on the existing unique opportunities in Alaska such as wild food production, tourism and organic and Alaska Native product marketing.

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