Research Matters No. 96. Commercial Fishing, Mining, and Tourism: State Revenues and Spending

How do taxes and other revenues the state government collects from the commercial fishing, mining, and tourism industries compare with what the state spends to manage them? That’s the question the Alaska Division of Economic Development asked ISER researchers Bob Loeffler and Steve Colt to answer. In a new study, the researchers report their findings, but they first emphasize that their study is not a broad analysis of all the benefits and costs of these industries, which would also weigh many other factors—including the substantial income and thousands of jobs the industries generate for Alaskans. The researchers also point out that the state’s management goals for these industries include many things besides collecting taxes, and that their study does not say anything about what taxes on these industries should be.

The authors found that commercial fishing, mining, and tourism all generate combined state and local revenues in the same ballpark—averaging about $120 million to $135 million annually in recent years. All three industries pay more in combined state and local taxes than the state spends to manage them, with revenues from tourism and commercial fishing particularly important to local governments: 60% of the revenue from tourism and 40% from fishing goes to local governments. Counting only state revenues (excluding local revenues), the state spends more to manage fishing than it collects from the industry. State revenues from tourism roughly equal what the state spends for management. Mining brings in about six times more than the state spends to manage it.

Bob Loeffler is a visiting professor of public policy at ISER, funded by a grant to the University of Alaska Foundation from the Council of Alaska Producers. Steve Colt is a professor of economics at ISER. The report findings are those of the authors, not ISER, the University of Alaska Anchorage, or the research sponsors.

Download the summary (PDF, 734 KB) or the full report (PDF, 2.6 MB), Fiscal Effects of Commercial Fishing, Mining, and Tourism. If you have questions, get in touch with Bob Loeffler at or 907-250-4621.

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Research Matters No. 95. Assessing Repeat Child Maltreatment in Alaska

A new study by ISER researchers Diwakar Vadapalli and Jessica Passini finds that federal statistics on repeat abuse and neglect may underestimate how many children in Alaska are repeatedly maltreated. That’s because the federal figures include only cases of maltreatment that happen over a short time—6 or 12 months—and they are based only on substantiated cases, which are cases of reported abuse the Alaska Office of Children’s Services (OCS) confirms through investigation. The authors point out that repeated abuse can take place over a number of years, and that only a small percentage of reported abuse is substantiated, in Alaska and other states. So in their study, they looked at maltreatment reported to OCS for nearly a decade, from 2005 through 2013, of children born in or later than 2005. They assessed how many children in that group were repeatedly abused or neglected, using both the cases OCS substantiated and all the cases it investigated.

The authors found that using all investigated cases as a measure of repeat maltreatment shows a considerably higher rate than using just substantiated cases. Children who were reported as being maltreated more than once accounted for nearly 70% of all OCS investigations of the study group. Repeated maltreatment started when children were very young, with more than 40% of children in the study group first abused or neglected when they were less than a year old. Boys and girls were about equally likely to be maltreated repeatedly.

The study, Repeat Maltreatment in Alaska: Assessment and Exploration of Alternative Measures, was funded by the University of Alaska Foundation, the Alaska Children’s Trust, and First National Bank Alaska. Diwakar Vadapalli is an assistant professor of public policy at ISER; Jessica Passini is a researcher at ISER. If you have questions, get in touch with Dr. Vadapalli at 907-786-5422 or

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Gunnar Knapp to Retire as Director, While Continuing Research and Public Outreach

Gunnar Knapp, ISER’s director since 2013 and a professor of economics at ISER for 35 years, has announced he will retire from the University of Alaska Anchorage in June 2016. But after retiring he plans to work part-time with ISER, in particular continuing his research and public outreach to help Alaskans understand the big fiscal challenges the state faces. He will also continue his decades-long research on Alaska’s salmon industry and salmon markets, which has earned him an international reputation as a fisheries economist.

Dr. Knapp describes his retirement as a long-planned decision, allowing him to spend more time with his family and "to enjoy the beauty of Alaska, which so entranced me when I first came here.” He notes that in the past few years ISER has hired several excellent new researchers, and he is confident that ISER will continue "to maintain and build its capacity for objective and critical research and education about the economy and society of Alaska and the Arctic and the very important and challenging policy issues we are facing.”

Read Dr. Knapp’s full retirement letter (PDF, 9.33KB).

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