• Hatcher Pass Ski Resort, Phase 1: Economic Significance

      Goldsmith, Scott (Institute of Social and Economic Research, University of Alaska., 1998)
      Hatcher Pass Ski Resort, Phase 1: Economic Significance
    • Health Effects of Indoor-Air Benzene in Anchorage Residences: A Study of Indoor-Air Quality in Houses with Attached Garages

      Gordian, Mary Ellen; Frazier, Rosyland; Hill, Alexandra; Schreiner, Irma; Siver, Darla; Stewart, Alistair; Morris, Steve (Institute of Social and Economic Research, University of Alaska Anchorage, 2009-06)
      Benzene is a known carcinogen. It affects white blood cells; it causes leukemia and aplastic anemia. It may also affect the immune system which is dependent on white blood cells.1 It has been removed from all household products, but it is still present in gasoline. Alaskan gasoline is particularly high in benzene (>5%). Gasoline refined in Alaska has high concentrations of benzene and other the aromatic compounds as much as 50% aromatics by volume. Leaving the aromatics in the gasoline helps cars start in the cold, but it also puts high concentrations of benzene in both the ambient and indoor air. We already knew from previous work done in Alaska by Bernard Goldstein in Valdez2 and the Anchorage Department of Health and Human Services in Anchorage3 that people were exposed to high ambient levels of benzene in the winter, and that there were high indoor benzene concentrations in homes with attached garages if the garage was used to store gasoline or gasoline powered engines. Benzene does not bioaccumulate in the body as dioxin or some pesticides do. But are its effects cumulative? Does a little dose of benzene everyday have the same effect as a large dose over less time? Benzene reduces CD4 cells in a dose-response manner at workplace concentrations less than 1 ppm (OSHA 8-hour exposure limit) in workers.4 People who live in homes with high benzene concentrations may be exposed 24 hours a day, seven days a week. There have been no studies of health effects of such environmental exposure to benzene. This study was done to determine three things: 1. What percentage of Anchorage homes with attached garages had high levels of indoor benzene? 2. Were the high levels of indoor benzene affecting the health of the residents? 3. Were residents more likely to develop asthma in homes with high levels of indoor benzene?
    • Healthy Nations Initiative Evaluation: The Stories and Lessons of Fighting Substance Abuse in Native American Communities

      May, Philip; Taylor, Timothy; Moss, Randy (Institute of Social and Economic Research, University of Alaska., 2003)
      In this program, tribes and urban American Indian organizations were invited to submit proposals for projects to address their high-priority health problems, emphasizing activities to prevent illness and injury and to improve the health of infants, children, youth, and the elderly. Although the 15 grantees selected in Healthy Nations were a diverse group, ranging from the Eastern Band of Cherokee in North Carolina to the Norton Sound Health Corporation in Alaska, there were many similarities in their strategies. The grantees' prevention worldview began with "culture" including its dynamic for community acceptance. Program mobilization followed a "recreation" (most frequently based on traditional activities) strategy targeting youth and families. This report will present the stories of these grantees—their successes, the obstacles they have overcome, the challenges that were met.
    • Heavy Oil Development: The Economic Impact

      Tuck, Bradford (Institute of Social and Economic Research, University of Alaska., 1995)
      The extension of North Slope oil production, through new discoveries, enhanced recovery techniques, and development of marginal fields, has received considerable public policy _ attention. Less discussed have been the reserves of heavy crude oil. While more difficult to produce, there are billions of barrels of reserves in place. The present study looks at the economic impact of an hypothesized development of heavy oil in the Milne Point Unit-Schrader Bluff area. The general dimensions of the project envision development expenditures of about $550 million, with the bulk of that spread over the first nine years of the project. In addition, production expenses are estimated at about $600 million, or an average of $14. 7 million per year over the forty-one year production life of the project. Average production of oil is approximately 20 thousand barrels per day over the life of the field.The economic impact methodology used is based on that employed by Professor Scott Goldsmith in his study Marginal Oil Field Development: The Economic Impact (Institute of Social and Economic Research, University of Alaska Anchorage; June 5, 1995). The basic objective in this type of impact analysis is to measure the change in aggregate expenditure, employment, and population effects in both the private and public sectors that result from the direct project expenditures. In other words, how does the economy look with the project, as compared to without the project. The analysis can look either at impacts on some periodic basis, such as changes in the annual level of activity. or at the aggregate impacts over the life of the project.
    • High Oil Prices Give Alaskans a Second Chance: How Will We Use this Opportunity?

      Goldsmith, Oliver Scott (Institute of Social and Economic Research, University of Alaska Anchorage, 2011-09)
      Think about this: 10 years ago, it looked as if Alaska was on the brink of a tough transition to a post-Prudhoe Bay economy. Oil production was half of what it had once been, the state’s oil revenues were about $2 billion, financial reserves were falling, and employment in the oil industry was down. The price of Alaska oil, adjusted to today’s buying power, was $27 a barrel—and that was high by historical standards. Things have changed dramatically since then: a combination of much higher oil prices—about $115 a barrel as this paper is being written—and revisions in the way the state calculates production taxes have caused state oil revenues to skyrocket, even though oil production is down 40% since 2002. We now find ourselves in a second huge oil-revenue boom, comparable to the one in the early 1980s (Figure 1 ).
    • Historical Sketch of Elections for Local Control of Alcohol in Alaska Communities

      Hull, Teresa; Berman, Matthew (Institute of Social and Economic Research, University of Alaska., 1999)
      This document provides tabulated information about elections in Alaska which had an option for Local Option Control of Alcoholic Beverages.
    • History and Options Regarding the Unfunded Liabilities of Alaska’s Public Employees’ and Teachers’ Retirement Systems

      Groh, Cliff (Institute of Social and Economic Research, University of Alaska Anchorage, 2018-04-08)
      In early 2003, financial analysts working for the State of Alaska announced that the two largest public employee retirement systems in Alaska had become significantly underfunded.3 From fiscal year 2006 (July 1, 2005 through June 30, 2006) to date, the state has paid $6.951 billion— (an average of $534.7 million annually)—to pay down these obligations, which will be called “unfunded liabilities” in this paper.4 The State of Alaska has substantial unfunded liabilities remaining to pay off for these two systems, the Public Employees’ Retirement System (PERS) and the Teachers’ Retirement System (TRS). There is uncertainty about the size of these unfunded liabilities, and there are also different ways of calculating them. For example, the State of Alaska’s snapshot balance-sheet approach, subtracting the accrued liabilities from the assets, based on their actuarial value, produces an estimate of $6.609 billion for the combined unfunded liabilities of PERS and TRS.5 That figure is an estimate of the unfunded liabilities discounted to the present day. Estimates of the size of the unfunded liabilities particularly vary based on the use of different critical assumptions, such as the rate of future returns on investment. As an example, using an estimated rate of return of 2.142 percent instead of the State of Alaska’s assumption of 8 percent produces an estimate of $33.9 billion for the state’s unfunded liabilities. 6 The State of Alaska has committed to paying off the unfunded liabilities under a 25-year amortization schedule that started in 2014, so another highly relevant measurement of those liabilities appears to be the amount actuaries for the state currently project will be needed under that pay-off plan, which runs through fiscal year 2039. The state’s actuaries project that from fiscal year 2019 through fiscal year 2039 the state will pay a total of $10.815 billion in extra contributions—called “state assistance” or “additional state contributions” in this paper—to pay off the unfunded liabilities. 7 In contrast to the state’s snapshot estimate of $6.609 billion, this estimate of $10.815 billion in state assistance represents a flow of annual cash payments. That is, the $10.815 billion is an estimate of the total amount needed to eliminate the unfunded liabilities of PERS and TRS under the 25-year amortization schedule the state adopted in 2014. 4 Note that this state assistance is above and beyond the amount the state is projected to owe in its role as employer in the normal course of funding the two systems.8 Employers other than the state—primarily local governments and school districts—also participate in PERS and TRS, and the figure for state assistance covers not only unfunded liabilities attributed to the state but also a portion of the unfunded liabilities attributed to non-state employers. As explained more later, the state has assumed, by statute, the responsibility to pay for a share of the unfunded liability of these other employers. 9 This paper: • Describes the structure of the Alaska public employee retirement systems in the context of some unusual features of public employment on the Last Frontier • Reviews how the problem of unfunded liabilities came about • Examines how concerns over unfunded liabilities produced both changes and proposed changes in the retirement systems over the past dozen years, including proposals for changes in the allocation of burdens between the state and local governments in paying for retirement benefits • Describes current projections of future amounts needed to pay off the unfunded liabilities • Discusses how future estimates of the unfunded liabilities might change in response to economic and demographic factors • Discusses legal provisions protecting the rights of beneficiaries of the retirement systems • Lays out options for policymakers—other than the current policy of paying down the unfunded liabilities over time—including buyout, bailout, and bankruptcy
    • Hitchhikers on floats to Arctic freshwater: Private aviation and recreation loss from aquatic invasion

      Schwoerer, Tobias; Little, Joseph; Schmidt, Jennifer; Borash, Kyle (Springer Netherlands, 2019)
      This study of aviation-related recreation loss shows that a survey primarily aimed at collecting information on invasive species’ pathways can also be used to estimate changes in pathway-related ecosystem services. We present a case study for Elodea spp. (elodea), Alaska’s first known aquatic invasive plant, by combining respondents’ stated pre-invasion actual flights with stated post-invasion contingent behavior, plane operating costs, and site quality data. We asked pilots about the extent of continued flights should destinations become invaded and inhibit flight safety. We estimate a recreation demand model where the lost trip value to the average floatplane pilot whose destination is an elodea-invaded lake is US$185 (95 % CI $157, $211). Estimates of ecosystem damages incurred by private actors responsible for transmitting invaders can nudge actors to change behavior and inform adaptive ecosystem management. The policy and modeling implications of quantifying such damages and integration into more complex models are discussed.
    • Homer Fiscal Planning Model: Background Report

      Goldsmith, Scott (Institute of Social and Economic Research, University of Alaska., 1992)
      Homer is a first-class city of about 4,000 residents, located in the Kenai Peninsula Borough. The city provides a variety of local government services including police and fire protection, roads maintenance, and parks and recreation as well as a library, but excluding schools (provided by the Borough). These services and general government expenses are financed primarily through sales and property taxes and transfers from the state. City expenditures increased rapidly through most of the 1980s, interrupted only during the recession years of 1988 and 1989. An economic boom occurring at the end of the decade has now passed, and the ability of the city to fund services is being constrained both by the local economic base·and the budget problems facing state government. The 1992 Homer budget reflects a sharp reduction from the previous year, with departments planning layoffs and service cutbacks. Aggressive fiscal planning in future years will be required to minimize the negative effects of budget shortfalls in the coming years. This document provides information to assist the community in addressing this issue.
    • Household Composition and Gender Differences in Parental Time Investments

      Bibler, Andrew (Institute of Social and Economic Research, University of Alaska Anchorage, 2017-04-04)
      Recent research documents a female advantage in several important long-term outcomes among children raised in single-parent households, and highlights the importance of non-cognitive skills for explaining these gaps. Understanding the source of differences in non-cognitive skills is complicated due to the presence of many interrelated and often unobservable inputs. One potential explanation for such gaps is that boys and girls receive different levels of inputs in single-parent versus two-parent households. This paper provides empirical evidence that input levels change differentially by gender across household structures and hence may facilitate gender gaps in noncognitive skills. Using data from the Panel Study of Income Dynamics and accompanying Child Development Supplement, I estimate gender differences in parental time investments, defined as the amount of time parents spend participating in activities with the child, around changes in household composition. I find that, although both boys and girls experience reductions in parental time investments following a change from a two-parent to single-mother household, boys experience a larger reduction than girls. The largest difference is found in fathers’ time investments on weekdays, for which boys lose an additional 24 minutes per day (35% of average paternal weekday investments). Moreover, there is little to no evidence that single mothers compensate for the loss by increasing time investments to boys relative to girls.
    • How Are We Doing? Monitoring Alaska's Fiscal Condition

      Goldsmith, Scott (Institute of Social and Economic Research, University of Alaska., 1994)
      Alaska’s government has been down on its luck this year, with low oil prices, a big deficit, and legal disputes over the budget. Despite all that, Alaska still has substantial assets. The state’s share of Alaska oil reserves is worth—even at low oil prices—about $16 billion. The Permanent Fund has a balance of $13 billion and earned $1 billion last year. Pages 2 and 3 of this summary examine what is happening to the state’s assets—and why preserving and building them is so important. The foldout details the risks of relying exclusively on cash reserves. Page 4 provides a simple checklist for monitoring the state’s progress toward the long-term budget strategy called the Safe Landing.
    • How Do Alaskans Cover Their Medical Bills?

      Leask, Linda; Frazier, Rosyland; Passini, Jessica (Institute of Social and Economic Research, University of Alaska Anchorage, 2017-04-01)
      The Affordable Care Act (ACA) has been at the top of the news lately, with Congress considering but then dropping proposed changes. Congress will try again to change the ACA—but it’s uncertain how or when. This summary looks broadly at all the kinds of health-care coverage Alaskans have now, and how ACA provisions have changed that coverage.
    • How do oil prices influence Alaska and other energy-dependent states?

      Guettabi, Mouhcine (Institute of Social and Economic Research, University of Alaska, 2018)
      We analyze monthly data from the Bureau of Labor and Statistics to evaluate how fluctuations in oil prices affect economic activity in Alaska and other energy-dependent states. For this most recent recession, we find that only 6 of the traditional oil states experienced a recession. Four of those have already recovered, leaving Alaska and North Dakota as the only two to continue losing jobs. Using monthly employment data between 1991 and 2018 we estimate that, on average, the long run effect of a 10% change in oil prices results in a 1.7% change in employment across the five most important oil states. When analyzed individually, we find that some of them experience symmetric responses to oil price increases and decreases while others are much more sensitive to price declines.
    • How Does Alaska's Spending Compare?

      Leask, Linda; Tran, Trang; Guettabi, Mouhcine (Institute of Social and Economic Research, University of Alaska Anchorage, 2018-02-01)
      A laskans have been arguing for years about how much the state government should be spending, ever since low oil prices gouged a big hole in the budget—and the state has been using up its savings to pay the bills. We don’t know how much the state should spend: that answer depends on what things Alaskans want to keep, and what they’ll pay for them. But we can throw some light on the debate.
    • How Hard Is It for Alaska’s Medicare Patients to Find Family Doctors?

      Frazier, Rosyland; Foster, Mark A. (Institute of Social and Economic Research, University of Alaska Anchorage, 2009-03)
      In the past few years, Alaskans have been hearing reports that some primary-care doctors won’t see new Medicare patients. Medicare pays these doctors only about two-thirds of what private insurance pays—and that’s after a sizable increase in 2009. But most Americans 65 or older have to use Medicare as their main insurance, even if they also have private insurance. Just how widespread is the problem of Alaska’s primary-care doctors turning away Medicare patients? ISER surveyed hundreds of doctors to find out—and learned that so far there’s a major problem in Anchorage, a noticeable problem in the Mat-Su Borough and Fairbanks, and almost no problem in other areas.
    • How Has the 80th Percentile Rule Affected Alaska's Health-Care Expenditures?

      Guettabi, Mouhcine (Institute of Social and Economic Research, University of Alaska Anchorage, 2018-05-16)
      We use the Health Expenditures by State of Residence data (1991-2014) compiled by Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services to examine the causal effect of the 80th percentile rule on Alaska's health care expenditures. We find evidence that Alaska's expenditures would have been lower in the absence of rule. The share of the overall increase in expenditures that we attribute to the 80th percentile rule is between 8.61% and 24.65%. It is important to note that using expenditures as a proxy for costs has limitations as it is the product of both quantity of services used and prices.
    • How Has the 80th Percentile Rule Affected Alaska's Health-Care Expenditures?

      Guettabi, Mouhcine (Institute of Social and Economic Research, University of Alaska Anchorage, 5/16/2018)
      We use the Health Expenditures by State of Residence data (1991-2014) compiled by Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services to examine the causal effect of the 80th percentile rule on Alaska's health care expenditures. We find evidence that Alaska's expenditures would have been lower in the absence of rule. The share of the overall increase in expenditures that we attribute to the 80th percentile rule is between 8.61% and 24.65%. It is important to note that using expenditures as a proxy for costs has limitations as it is the product of both quantity of services used and prices.
    • How Is the State Dealing With the Shortfall in Pension Systems?

      Groh, Cliff (Institute of Social and Economic Research, University of Alaska Anchorage, 2018-04-18)
      I n early 2003, financial analysts gave Alaska state officials some very bad news: the two largest pension systems for public employees wouldn’t have the money to cover all the expected future costs of pensions and health-care benefits for state and local employees when they retired. This shortfall—called the unfunded liability— had been caused by, among other things, several years of poor returns on fund investments and soaring health-care costs. Public pensions are protected in Alaska’s constitution, and the state has already contributed nearly $7 billion to reduce the shortfall. How much more it will need to pay is uncertain, since it depends on many things that are hard to predict. But most analysts believe it will be billions more. That poses a major challenge for the state—which has been dealing with big budget deficits—and for local governments, which need to help pay the unfunded liability but have far smaller financial reserves than the state.
    • How Much Might Climate Change Add to Future Costs for Public Infrastructure?

      Goldsmith, Scott; Larsen, Peter; Smith, Orson; Wilson, Meghan; Strzepek, Ken; Chinowsky, Paul; Saylor, Ben; Leask, Linda; Merill, Clemencia (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.
    • 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.