Draft Summary Alaska Rural Settlement Patterns Lance Howe Understanding Alaska by Cannabisrapper

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									Draft Summary: “Alaska Rural Settlement Patterns, 1990-2000”
Lance Howe, Understanding Alaska, ISER

Alaska’s population is one of the most mobile of any US state. Although recent migration is
moderate relative to earlier years, at least 48% of the Alaska population moved between Alaska
census regions or into or out of another state between 1995 and 2000.1 These population flows
were greater than 46 other US states. The “Rural Settlement Patterns” report summarized here
focuses on the nature, and to some extent the causes and consequences, of regional migration in
Alaska.2
Regional migration was mainly from rural to urban Alaska or between urban census regions.
Total migration accounted for about 50% of each regions population and regional migration
accounted for about 10% to 15% of this total. Rates of population decline due to migration were
largest for census regions along Alaska’s western coast; from Lake and Peninsula to the North
Slope Borough, population flowed to urban areas at greater rates than other rural regions.
Overall, urban census regions gained more than 6,000 persons due to regional migration. Rates
of increase were largest for the Mat-Su Borough while declines were largest for Lake and
Peninsula Borough.
There were important individual differences between migrants such as age, race, and gender. In
rural areas, the rate of population decline due to regional migration was significantly higher for
females relative to males (especially to the Anchorage Mat-Su region), however, as a share of the
urban population, rates of increase were only slightly greater for females. Migration also differed
by race. Alaska Natives, who make up about 19% of the population, made up about 28% of
regional migrants. Although non-Natives left rural areas at greater rates for urban areas a
significantly larger number of Natives left rural areas and so Native migrants arrived in urban
areas (as a share of the urban Native population) at much greater rates than non-Natives. Finally,
there were important age differences in regional migration. In rural regions, rates of decline were
greatest for the young working age population (ages 20-34), correspondingly rates of increase in
the Anchorage Mat-Su region were largest for the population ages 20-34. In Aleutians and
Bethel Wade Hampton regions rates of decline were especially high for young children.
The report also highlights indirect evidence on the important role of economic incentives. While
employment and income status at the time of migration is unknown, migration characteristics
vary significantly by current employment and poverty status. Persons currently poor moved from
rural to urban regions at much higher rates than persons not poor. Also, persons currently
employed seemed to have left rural regions at much lower rates than persons unemployed or not
in the labor force. While these trends are not the same across regions, they are generally
consistent with the standard economic interpretation of the migration decision; greater relative
expected wages abroad will lead to greater migration flows abroad.
The report also explores the effect of migration on communities using data from 1990-2000.3
Grouping places with total migration gains or losses, we identify important changes in

1
  Between 1995 and 2000 at least 43,000 persons moved to another Alaska census region, 95,562 moved in from another state, 126,060 moved
out to another state, and 12,564 moved in from another country – this doesn’t account for international out-migrants nor migration of children
under 5. The Census estimated the 1995 population (5yrs+) to be 579,740.
2
  We document State to State migration in the report “The characteristics of Alaska migrants: boom and bust migration, 1960-2000.”
3
  While migration data is not available for this period we estimate place level migration using births and deaths by census region.



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community characteristics with respect to race, gender, and age. In rural and semi-rural places
where population declined due to total migration, the Native share of the population increased
more than in rural places that gained population. In urban areas, the share of the Native
population increased dramatically over the period, particularly in larger urban places such as
Anchorage and Fairbanks. The female share of the population also increased relatively more in
places where total migration led to population decline compared to places where population
increased due to migration. For urban areas this result is consistent with expectations, Anchorage
and Fairbanks, where total population declined due to out of state migration, were destinations of
many female out-migrants. Finally, the share of kids under 10 declined the most in rural places
where population declined due to total migration. In urban areas, the share of kids declined less
in the larger urban centers than in smaller urban places.
Changes in real per capita income and labor force participation also differed between places that
experienced net inflows or outflows in population. Labor force participation rates and real per
capita incomes increased more in rural places where there was an overall increase in population
due to total migration. This appears to be consistent with the fact that individuals are more likely
to move to locations where expected wages are greatest.
In conclusion, regional migration in Alaska is significant. Between 1995 and 2000 large rural to
urban flows in part offset large declines in the urban population due to out of state migration. It
is likely that economic incentives were generally driving much of the rural to urban migration.
But at the same time, there were important differences by individual characteristic. Rural rates of
out-migration were much higher for females relative to males, and while non-Natives left rural
areas at greater rates, Natives arrived in urban areas at the highest of rates. The young working
age population arrived in urban areas at the greatest rates and were frequently accompanied by
children.




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