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Research Matters No. 106: Energy Costs and Rural Alaska Out-Migration


Published:

April 6, 2017

Does expensive home-heating fuel cause people to move out of rural Alaska communities and into urban areas? Yes, but not as many as some anecdotal reports might lead you to expect. Matthew Berman, professor of economics at ISER, just completed the first study to use statistical testing to assess whether high fuel prices prompt people to leave rural communities. The research was funded by the Alaska Energy Authority. 
 
Using data from adult Permanent Dividend applications for 2003 through 2015, the author found:
 
• For each $1 increase in fuel prices, fewer than 40 adults moved from rural to urban places each year.
 
• Most of the rural residents who moved to urban areas as fuel prices rose came from the larger, regional hub communities. Residents of smaller rural villages who left in the face of higher fuel prices were more likely to move to regional hubs.
 
• People's employment status and earnings, and local labor market conditions in general, had more influence than high fuel prices on decisions to leave rural places.
 
Download the study, Energy Costs and Rural Alaska Out-Migration (PDF, 137.3KB), by Matthew Berman. If you have questions, get in touch with the author at matthew.berman@uaa.alaska.edu or call 907-786-5426

 

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