• Webnote 21. The Growing Number of Alaska Children in Foster Care, 2011-2015

      Passini, Jessica; Vadapalli, Diwakar (Institute of Social and Economic Research, University of Alaska Anchorage, 3/1/2016)
    • What Do Alaskan's with Disabilities Need?

      Hanna, Virgene (Institute of Social and Economic Research, University of Alaska., 1991)
      More than 20,000 Alaskas - 4 percent of the state population- are disabled and live outside institutions. Most of them of getting medical care, but many lack special equipment, information, and other help they need. These are among the findings of a recent ISER survey of more than 4300 Alaska households. It is the first survey of its kind in the nation to determine how many disabled persons live on their own and what they need to continue living independently.
    • What do we know about the effects of the Alaska Permanent Fund Dividend?

      Guettabi, Mouhcine (Institute of Social and Economic Research, University of Alaska Anchorage, 2019-05-20)
      The Alaska Permanent Fund Dividend (PFD) has been distributed to Alaska residents for 37 years, providing each resident an equal share of a yearly government appropriation based on the earnings of the Alaska Permanent Fund. While support for the program is high, work assessing the PFD’s influence on the lives of Alaskans is limited. Recently, a number of researchers have analyzed the causal effect of the PFD on a variety of socio-economic outcomes including employment, consumption, income inequality, health, and crime. This paper summarizes this empirical literature and highlights future areas of research.
    • What do we know to date about the Alaska recession and the fiscal crunch?

      Guettabi, Mouhcine (Institute of Social and Economic Research, University of Alaska Anchorage, 2018-01-01)
      We provide a broad overview of the state’s economic and fiscal conditions. We show how the economic contraction has spread away from natural resource and mining and state government to household spending dependent sectors. We also show that while the rate at which jobs are being lost has slowed, it is inaccurate to think about that as a sign of a recovery. That is because the engine of growth that is O&G employment as of June 2017 was only 75% of what it was in 2014. Additionally, the softness in spending activity may linger for an extended period of time. We also assess the regional effects of the recession and show the significant heterogeneity in experience. Unsurprisingly, areas with economic bases not associated with Oil and Gas and with relatively little dependence on state government spending are holding up best. After establishing an understanding of the economic conditions, we offer a back of the envelope calculation of the capital investment losses associated with the fiscal uncertainty. Then, we provide a comparison of Alaska’s taxes relative to the rest of the US, and a simulation of the effects of different withdrawal amounts on the permanent fund balance and the earnings reserve.
    • What Does $7.6 Billion in Federal Money Mean to Alaska?

      Larson, Eric; Leask, Linda; Goldsmith, Scott (Institute of Social and Economic Research, University of Alaska., 2003)
      The federal government spent $7.6 billion in Alaska in 2002. To get an idea of how big that is, look at the graph to the right, comparing it with some other sources of money in Alaska. This summary—based on a new ISER study —reports how the federal government spends money in Alaska and how much the state’s economy depends on that spending. The short answer: a lot. This summary is based on the ISER report, Federal Spending and Revenues in Alaska (2002).
    • What Drives The Alaska Economy?

      Goldsmith, Oliver Scott (Institute of Social and Economic Research, University of Alaska Anchorage, 2008-12)
      What drives Alaska’s economy is new money: money coming in from outside the state. How big the economy is, and how much it grows, depends on how much new money comes in. New money comes from “basic” sectors— the sectors that are the basis for all jobs and income across Alaska. They are, in effect, the gears driving the economy. Alaska has eight main basic sectors, but the number of Alaskans they employ directly is small, compared with the number of jobs they support indirectly. Figure 1 shows numbers and shares of jobs for Alaskans that the federal government, the petroleum sector, and the other basic sectors generated on average between 2004 and 2006. The numbers for any specific period aren’t as important as the percentages, which don’t change much from year to year.
    • What We Learned about Alaska's Finances, 1989-1992

      Goldsmith, Scott; Gorsuch, Lee; Hill, Alexandra; Hull, Teresa; Berman, Matthew; Hogan, Jay; Madden, Mary Lou; Leask, Linda; Monette, Dalsfoist (Institute of Social and Economic Research, University of Alaska., 1992)
      The principal series author, Scott Goldsmith, is an ISER economist with 17 years’ experience analyzing state finances. Lee Gorsuch, ISER director, guides the design and presentation of the series. Other contributors include Alexandra Hill and Teresa Hull, ISER research associates, Matthew Berman, ISER economist, Jay Hogan, former director of the Alaska Division of Budget Review, and Mary Lou Madden, currently with the Alaska Commission on Post-Secondary Education. Linda Leask edits the series and Monette Dalsfoist prepares layout and graphics. Many state officials and private citizens also helped us enormously by reviewing drafts of the papers, and we thank them all. The series to date has been financed by a grant from ARCO Alaska. It will continue in 1993 with grants from several Alaska businesses.
    • What's the Economic Importance of Alaska's Healthy Ecosystems?

      Colt, Steve (Institute of Social and Economic Research, University of Alaska., 2001)
      About one quarter of Alaska’s jobs depend in one way or another on the state's fish, wildlife, scenic beauty, recreational opportunities, and public lands. That’s a rough estimate of what healthy ecosystems contribute to the economy. Salmon and other natural assets depend on habitat, clean water, and other benefits from Alaska’s ecosystems.2 Those natural assets in turn support jobs—about 84,000, once we adjust for some double-counting across industries. We include only jobs that depend on healthy ecosystems and natural assets and that are sustainable year after year. About half the ecosystem-related jobs rely on commercial, sport, and subsistence harvests of fish and wildlife. Tourism, recreation, and government management of public lands and resources support the other half. Another way of measuring the economic importance of Alaska’s ecosystems is what economists call “net willingness to pay.” That’s an estimate of how much more Americans would be willing to pay—besides what they already spend— to maintain Alaska’s natural assets. That method allows economists to assign a dollar value to things like scenery. Why would we want to put an economic value on such intangibles? It’s a useful way of show- ing that—aside from other kinds of value—Alaska’s healthy ecosystems have enormous economic value. Our ability to estimate net (or additional) willingness to pay for ecosystem benefits does vary, depending on what’s being valued.
    • When Values Conflict: Political Accommodation of Alaska Native Subsistence

      Holleman, Marybeth; Morehouse, Thomas (Institute of Social and Economic Research, University of Alaska., 1994)
      Management of subsistence hunting and fishing in Alaska today is caught between federal law and the Alaska constitution. The federal Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act of 1980 (ANILCA) requires giving Natives and other rural residents subsistence preference-that is, first call on fish and game when they are scarce. But the Alaska Supreme Court~ McDowell decision in 1989 held that a similar state law was unconstitutional, because the state's constitution prohibits granting such preferences based solely on place of residence. As a result, the federal government now manages subsistence on federal lands, the state on state lands, and it appears to some that the two management systems are headed toward an inevitable "horrific collision." This paper argues that although the fundamental value conflict between equal rights and cultural survival cannot be resolved, it can be circumvented and at least partially neutralized. Legislators, judges, and administrators can focus on material or economic problems of resource conservation and allocation, which, unlike value conflicts, are more susceptible to compromise.
    • Who Pays for Alaska's Schools?

      Larson, Eric; Berman, Matthew (Institute of Social and Economic Research, University of Alaska., 1995)
      Alaska's public schools cost $1.2 billion in the 1992-93 school year. That included both operating and capital spending and amounted to about $10,000 for each of the state's 119,000 elementary and secondary students. This research summary looks at where Alaska's public schools got their money and how they spent it in 1992-93. We don't yet have complete figures for the 1993--94 year. The information is based on work by Matthew Berman, and Teresa Hull.
    • Who Will Pay for Balancing the Budget?

      Leask, Linda; Goldsmith, Scott; Berman, Matthew; Hill, Alexandra (Institute of Social and Economic Research, University of Alaska., 1991)
      Alaskans will pay more and get less from state government in the 1990s. But how will the burden of spending cuts and tax increases fall on richer and poorer and urban and rural households? That depends on which policies state officials choose. Alaska faces big and growing budget deficits because the petroleum revenues that mostly paid for state government in the 1980s are steadily shrinking. When those deficits will start is uncertain, but low world oil prices are erasing the budget surplus state officials had expected as a result of the Middle East war. This paper assesses how different taxing and spending policies could affect different kinds of households. As a measure of those effects we examine relative losses in disposable household income. Budget deficits will of course have other effects on households. Some households will be hurt a lot more than others by broad economic losses and reduced government services. Alaskans who lose their jobs will obviously suffer bigger losses than we describe. But relative household income loss is a good measure of the equity of various fiscal policies. We estimate losses in disposable household income by comparing how various fiscal policies reduce state transfer pay-ments and increase state and local taxes.
    • Win or Lose: Residential Sorting After a School Choice Lottery

      Bibler, Andrew; Billings, Stephen (SSRN, 2018)
      We examine residential relocation and opting out of the public school system in response to school choice lottery outcomes. We show that rising kindergarten and sixth graders who lose a school choice lottery are 6 percentage points more likely to exit the district or change neighborhood schools (20-30% increase) and make up 0.14-0.35 standard deviations in average school test scores between lottery assignment and attendance the following year. Using hedonic-based estimates of land prices, we estimate that lottery losers pay a 9-11% housing price premium for access to a school with a one standard deviation higher mean test score.
    • Wind-Diesel Systems in Alaska: A Preliminary Analysis

      Fay, Ginny; Keith, Katherine; Schwörer, Tobias (Institute of Social and Economic Research, University of Alaska Anchorage, 2010-06)
      Most remote rural communities in Alaska use diesel to generate electricity. But the recent rapid development of a worldwide commercial wind industry, along with the rise in diesel fuel prices, has increased interest in wind power in rural Alaska—both to reduce energy costs and to provide local, renewable, sustainable energy. Wind is abundant in Alaska, and a growing number of rural communities are building winddiesel systems, integrating wind into isolated diesel power plants. These systems have moved from the initial demonstration phase a decade ago toward a technology available for many communities. Even in places that have not yet added wind, some rural utilities are planning for the possibility. For example, Alaska Village Electric Cooperative (AVEC) has committed to making new diesel power plants “wind ready” by designing its electrical systems so that wind turbines can be incorporated in the future without major reconfiguration. But it is not clear under what rural Alaska conditions wind-diesel systems are more economical than conventional diesel plant operations. The Alaska Energy Authority asked the Institute of Social and Economic Research (ISER) and the Alaska Center for Energy and Power (ACEP) to assess the performance of existing rural wind-diesel systems. We analyzed data available for existing wind-diesel systems as of spring 2010. Keep in mind that our analysis is preliminary; most rural wind-diesel systems are very new, and more time is needed to evaluate them fairly. Only three wind systems (Kotzebue, Wales, and Saint Paul Island) have been operating for more than a few years. Initial funding for the Kotzebue and Wales projects came from the U.S. Department of Energy, which funds research but does not subsidize utility operations. These early projects, built in the late 1990s, faced problems but demonstrated there is hardware that can operate in arctic environments. The Saint Paul village corporation funded the system on the island; it provides power for an industrial complex and airport the corporation owns. It is a high-performing system, and the most successful of the early demonstration systems, as measured by its capacity factor. However, it should be noted that both the Kotzebue and Wales systems have provided valuable experiences and lessons learned while integrating wind on a community-scale grid. Beginning in 2004, the Denali Commission funded projects in five communities (Selawik, Hooper Bay, Kasigluk, Savoonga, and Toksook Bay). In 2008, the Alaska Legislature created the Renewable Energy Fund, a competitive program intended to invest in renewable energy. That fund, which is administered by the Alaska Energy Authority, paid for construction of six projects listed as completed in spring 2010.
    • Working for Children: Kids Count Alaska

      Dinges, Norman; Frazier, Rosyland; Larson, Eric (Institute of Social and Economic Research, University of Alaska., 1996)
      Many Americans are worried about children in the U.S. growing up in poverty, in broken homes, and in dangerous neighborhoods. Policymakers and others with responsibilities for children's well-being need reliable information about conditions affecting children. Alaska in 1990 had relatively few babies born with low birth weights (which can mean developmental problems later), with little regional variation. The share of children in poverty statewide in 1990 was 11 percent, but regional shares varied from 6 to 24 percent. More than one in five Alaska families were headed by single parents in 1990, with the regional share as high as one in three. Overall, we hope the indicators compiled and disseminated by Kids Count Alaska will become an important tool that Alaskans in public and private life can use in developing policies and programs to help children and families.
    • Youth in Crisis Characteristics of Homeless Youth Served by Covenant House Alaska

      Martin, Stephanie; Meléndez, Alejandra Villalobos (Institute of Social and Economic Research, University of Alaska Anchorage, 2010-03-03)
      This research is the result of a partnership between Covenant House Alaska and the Institute of Social and Economic Research at the University of Alaska, Anchorage, as part of a national effort, initiated by Covenant House Institute, to create partnerships between Covenant House service providers and academic institutions. This report documents trends in use of Crisis Center at Covenant House Alaska and the characteristics of its clients. Use of Crisis Center, measured by visits and length of stay, has been increasing since 2003. The number of youth coming to Covenant House Crisis Center from outside of Anchorage is increasing, as is the number Alaska Natives served by Covenant House. Data indicate that many after aging out of foster care, many youth end up at Covenant House. Similarly many who receive mental health care outside of the state, return to Alaska and end up at Crisis Center. Few have high school diplomas or GED and three out of four are unemployed.
    • Youth in Crisis: Characteristics of Homeless Youth Served by Covenant House Alaska

      Martin, Stephanie; Villalobos Meléndez, Alejandra (Institute of Social and Economic Research, University of Alaska, 2010)
      This research is the result of a partnership between Covenant House Alaska and the Institute of Social and Economic Research at the University of Alaska, Anchorage, as part of a national effort, initiated by Covenant House Institute, to create partnerships between Covenant House service providers and academic institutions. This report documents trends in use of Crisis Center at Covenant House Alaska and the characteristics of its clients. Use of Crisis Center, measured by visits and length of stay, has been increasing since 2003. The number of youth coming to Covenant House Crisis Center from outside of Anchorage is increasing, as is the number Alaska Natives served by Covenant House. Data indicate that many after aging out of foster care, many youth end up at Covenant House. Similarly many who receive mental health care outside of the state, return to Alaska and end up at Crisis Center. Few have high school diplomas or GED and three out of four are unemployed.
    • Yup’ik Language Assistance Tribal Outreach: Report to the Alaska Division of Elections

      Martin, Stephanie; Killorin, Mary; Sharp, Suzanne; DeRoche, Patricia (Institute of Social and Economic Research, University of Alaska Anchorage, 2009-10-15)
      The Division of Elections contracted with the Institute of Social and Economic Research (ISER) at the University of Alaska Anchorage to help develop a network of key tribal organization and village representatives in the Bethel census area to work with the division on their Yup’ik language assistance program. The division asked ISER to help them communicate with tribes about the division’s current programs and to document additional ways that the division can improve its language assistance program. The Alaska Division of Elections is required under the Federal Voting Rights Act (VRA) to provide language assistance to voters in areas where more than 5% of the voting age citizens are members of a single-language minority and are limited English proficient. In July 2008, a federal court ordered the division to take the following remedial actions, many of which the division had already taken prior to the court order: 1. Provide mandatory poll worker training. 2. Hire a language assistance coordinator fluent in Yup'ik. 3. Recruit bi-lingual poll workers or translators. 4. Provide sample ballots in written Yup'ik. 5. Provide pre-election publicity in Yup'ik. 6. Ensure the accuracy of translations. 7. Provide a Yup'ik glossary of election terms. 8. Submit pre-election and post-election reports. Although the division has a Yup’ik language assistance program and has been addressing the court order, interviews with Bethel census area residents show that some people are unaware of the elements in the division’s language assistance plan. In addition, some Bethel area residents said they feel the election workers and the division should interpret the meaning of the ballot measures and explain the positions of the various candidates—activities that are forbidden by state statute. ISER agreed to help the division address this lack of awareness and the misconceptions about their programs by contacting tribal organizations and inviting them to attend a meeting in Bethel, Alaska, on May 27, 2009. Part I of this report, issued in July 2009, describes ISER’s contacts with tribal organizations and summarizes the comments and feedback from the participants at the election outreach meeting in Bethel. Part II describes ISER’s post-meeting contacts with tribal organizations and meeting participants and summarizes their responses to the post-meeting survey.