Energy Costs and Rural Alaska Out-Migration

Does expensive home-heating fuel cause people to move out of rural Alaska communities and into urban areas? Yes, but not as many as anecdotal reports might lead you to expect. Matthew Berman, professor of economics at ISER, found that for each $1 increase in fuel prices, fewer than 40 adults a year moved from rural to urban places. He also found that people’s employment status and earnings, and local labor market conditions in general, had much more influence than high fuel prices on their decisions to leave rural places.

This is the first study to use statistical testing to assess whether high fuel prices prompt people to leave rural Alaska communities. The analysis was based on adult Permanent Fund Dividend applications for 2003 through 2015, and was funded by the Alaska Energy Authority.

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 or call 907-786-5426.

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