Effect of Alaska Fiscal Options on Children and Families

How might steps Alaska’s state government takes to balance its budget affect Alaska families? Different ways of closing the state’s $3 billion budget gap—the result of lower oil prices and dwindling oil revenues—will have different effects on households with and without children, according to a new report by Matthew Berman and Random Reamey of ISER. They looked specifically at how state income, sales, or property taxes and a cut in Permanent Fund dividends would affect incomes of households with and without children.

They found that a cut in PFDs would be by far the costliest measure for households with children—compared either with what they would pay under any of the tax measures, or with what PFD cuts would cost households without children. Households with children would pay about 2.5 times more of their per-person incomes than those without children, for every $100 million of revenue raised.

Download the summary (PDF, 696KB) or the report (PDF, 702KB), Effects of Alaska Fiscal Options on Children and Families. If you have questions, call Matthew Berman, professor of economics, at 907-786-5426

Posted in News

Understanding Water Rights in Alaska

No one has automatic rights to use water in Alaska: the state constitution defines water as a public resource, and the state government decides who can use water, how much, and for what. That’s true on both public and private land, and for all landowners—government agencies, businesses, and individual Alaskans.

Anyone who wants to use a significant amount of water has to apply to the state for water rights. A new paper by Marie Lowe and Linda Leask of ISER explains the basics of water rights in Alaska: what they are, when you need them, how to apply for them, and how many have been issued so far.

Download the paper, Understanding Water Rights in Alaska (PDF, 637KB). A supplemental file (PDF, 3.9MB) of some cited references is also available. If you have questions, get in touch with Marie Lowe, associate professor of public policy, at mlowe@alaska.edu or 907-786-6534.

Posted in News

Lunchtime Talk: A Framework for Valuing Commercial and Recreational Fisheries

Commercial and recreational fisheries are very different: the commercial fishery is a resource extraction, processing, and retailing industry; the recreational fishery is a form of outdoor recreation, influenced not only by the availability of fish but by the environmental setting and other factors aside from fish. How can we make a fair comparison of their economic value?

Gordon Gislason, a fisheries economist from Vancouver, British Columbia, talks about a framework he has developed for analyzing and comparing the economic value of the two kinds of fisheries. As a case study, he estimated the commercial and recreational values of Chinook salmon in Pacific Canada. Please join us to hear what he found.

Posted in News

Local Jobs and Income from Mineral Exploration

A new report by Bob Loeffler and Jennifer Schmidt of ISER looks at jobs and income residents of small Bristol Bay communities received during exploration at the proposed Pebble mine site from 2009 through 2012. That proposed mine is enormously controversial, because of its proximity to the world-class Bristol Bay salmon fisheries, and there has been no exploration since 2013. The authors emphasize they are neither endorsing nor opposing the proposed mine. Rather, they assessed the economic effects of Pebble exploration on local communities as a case study in how small, remote communities can capture more of the benefits of rural resource development.

They found that about 43% of the workers at the Pebble exploration site from 2009 through 2012 were residents of 18 small Bristol Bay communities. That totaled about 300 Bristol Bay residents over the four-year period. Residents of the seven communities closest to the exploration site got the most jobs and income, averaging 100 jobs a year and bringing nearly $1.5 million into their communities annually. Almost all the jobs were seasonal, and pay averaged $19 an hour.

Download the summary (PDF, 454KB) or the full report (PDF, 2MB). If you have questions, get in touch with Bob Loeffler at rloeffle@alaska.edu or call 907-250-4621. You can also contact Jennifer Schmidt at jischmidt0@gmail.com or call 907-786-5497.

Posted in News

Kevin Berry joins ISER Faculty

picture of Kevin BerryKevin Berry joined ISER in January as an assistant professor of economics, with a joint appointment in UAA’s economics department. He received his Ph.D. in economics from the University of Wyoming in 2015, and after that he was a post-doctoral associate at Yale University, studying adaptive human behavior and infectious disease.

His research interests include natural capital, human adaptive response to risk, human and natural systems and bio-economic modeling. He is interested in how people respond to environmental risk, including how they adapt to and mitigate risk. At ISER he hopes to work on large environmental problems involving fisheries, invasive species, and public health. In the fall he will begin teaching in the economics department. His office is at ISER, 1901 Bragaw Street, and his phone number is 907-786-1753.

Posted in News