Social Indicators Research

, Volume 61, Issue 2, pp 175–202 | Cite as

The Household as an Economic Unit in Arctic Aboriginal Communities, and its Measurement by Means of a Comprehensive Survey

  • Peter J. Usher
  • Gérard Duhaime
  • Edmund Searles


Northern aboriginal communities are widelyrecognized as having mixed, subsistence-basedeconomies. The chief characteristic of thiseconomy, aside from the contribution ofsubsistence harvesting and related activitiesto household well-being, is that the householdoperates as a ``micro-enterprise'' that is thebasic unit of production as well asconsumption. This economic form has persistedinto the present day, contrary to thepredictions of many social scientists andpolicy-makers. This paper outlines a model ofthe household in mixed, subsistence-basedeconomies, and describes its characteristicsand activities. While the discussion focuseson northern Canada, the model is thought toapply generally in the circumpolar North. Quantitative measurement of northern aboriginalhousehold characteristics and activities hasbeen limited, however, because national andregional data collection systems are notdesigned specifically to capture thesephenomena. The model is therefore basedprimarily on the results of in-depth casestudies, and the systematic measurement ofsubsistence harvesting. This paper describesthe development, for the first time, of aquestionnaire specifically designed to documentquantitatively the key characteristics of thehousehold economy as part of a comprehensivesurvey of living conditions in the circumpolarArctic.


Data Collection Social Scientist Systematic Measurement Quantitative Measurement Living Condition 
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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 2003

Authors and Affiliations

  • Peter J. Usher
    • 1
  • Gérard Duhaime
    • 2
  • Edmund Searles
    • 2
  1. 1.P.J. Usher Consulting ServicesOttawa
  2. 2.GÉTICUniversité LavalQuébec

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