Alaska after Prudhoe Bay: Sustainability of an Island Economy

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Show simple item record Goldsmith, Oliver Scott 2014-06-30T20:27:31Z 2014-06-30T20:27:31Z 2011-03
dc.description A paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the Western Regional Science Association Monterey, California en_US
dc.description.abstract The typical sovereign island economy is small and remote. For example the remote island nations of Nauru, Niue, and Saint Helena have populations in the range of 10 thousand each. Of course not all island nations are small or remote and neither are small or remote economies necessarily islands. However it is useful to think about the economies of small and remote islands because they can help us to understand the economic structure and prospects of larger and less remote places. Island economies generally lack a comparative advantage in the production of goods or services for export to the rest of the world. This is due to distance from markets and suppliers as well as an absence of economies of scale and specialization, both of which drive up the cost of exporting goods and services. And although the economic theory of comparative advantage tells us that trade among countries can occur even if one has an advantage in the production of all goods and services, that theory can break down if costs in the small and remote economy are too high. The mechanism by which the island economy gains access to export markets in the presence of high costs is through downward adjustment in the wage. But in some cases the wage would need to become negative to overcome the cost disadvantages created by distance and size. In such a case the island would have a subsistence economy with neither exports to the rest of the world or imports. The most important private economic activities one observes in these economies are agriculture and fishing. Occasionally an island economy will be able to take advantage of a market niche to generate exports. Tourism is the most common, and mining has provided an export base in some other places. However these market activities will not necessarily be large enough to employ a large share of the population. Furthermore dependence on a single activity leaves these economies vulnerable or “precarious”.As a consequence many of these economies are dependent on foreign aid and remittances from emigrants. These funds allow these economies to purchase a basic level of imports that would not otherwise be possible en_US
dc.description.sponsorship Northrim Bank. University of Alaska Foundation. en_US
dc.language.iso en_US en_US
dc.publisher Institute of Social and Economic Research, University of Alaska Anchorage en_US
dc.title Alaska after Prudhoe Bay: Sustainability of an Island Economy en_US
dc.type Working Paper en_US

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