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"Subsistence" redirects here. For the Catholic ecclesiological doctrine of Vatican II, see "Subsistit in".

A subsistence economy is a non-monetary economy which relies on natural resources to provide for basic needs, through hunting, gathering, and subsistence agriculture. "Subsistence" means supporting oneself at a minimum level; in a subsistence economy, economic surplus is minimal and only used to trade for basic goods, and there is no industrialization.[1][2]

In the history of the world, before the first cities, all humans lived in a subsistence economy. As urbanization, civilization, and division of labor spread, various societies moved to other economic systems at various times. Some remain relatively unchanged, ranging from uncontacted peoples, to poor areas of developing countries, to some cultures that choose to retain a traditional economy.

Capital can be generally defined as assets invested with the expectation that their value will increase, usually because there is the expectation of profit, rent, interest, royalties, capital gain or some other kind of return. However, this type of economy cannot usually become wealthy by virtue of the system, and instead requires further investments to stimulate economic growth. In other words, a subsistence economy only possesses enough goods to be used by a particular nation to maintain its existence and provides little to no surplus for other investments.[citation needed]


  • Pastoralism, the raising of grazing animals:
    • Pastoral nomadism — all members of the pastoral society follow the herd throughout the year.
    • Transhumance or agro-pastoralism — part of the society follows the herd, while the other part maintains a home village.
    • Ranch agriculture — non-nomadic pastoralism with a defined territory.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ http://www.businessdictionary.com/definition/subsistence-economy.html
  2. ^ http://www1.umn.edu/humanrts/edumat/sustecon/others/subsistence.htm Chief Seattle to President Pierce regarding sale of land

Original courtesy of Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Subsistence_economy — Please support Wikipedia.
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396 news items


Wed, 20 May 2015 13:26:15 -0700

The spill also shook the community's subsistence economy, says Daniel Nguyen, a community organizer affiliated with the Catholic Church, which is an anchor for the Vietnamese community here. The community relies on barter and trade, so seafood was ...
Sat, 16 May 2015 01:57:01 -0700

For myself I'm not very worried about capitalism, I regard it as better than socialism but it's not what I consider to be the important point about an economy. I think that markets are vital in order to be able to have anything above a subsistence ...

The Asia Foundation - In Asia

The Asia Foundation - In Asia
Wed, 20 May 2015 17:22:30 -0700

Displacement of communities and the shift from a traditional, subsistence economy to a cash-based economy often rely implicitly on women's unpaid care work, diminishing other productive and leadership roles for women. Yet women remain largely invisible ...
Nashoba Publishing
Fri, 15 May 2015 04:37:30 -0700

A few manage to get an elementary school education at the local school, he said. People eat mostly rice and fish, because that is what is available. It is a subsistence economy. The villagers produce most of what they need to live and have very little ...
Wilkes Barre Times-Leader
Mon, 11 May 2015 04:03:45 -0700

Her philosophy seems based on a rural, subsistence economy. But it's also based on an American tradition of self-reliance that we see variously displayed in everything from the “Autobiography” of Benjamin Franklin to the latest TV talk show self-help guru.

Seattle Weekly

Seattle Weekly
Tue, 12 May 2015 18:41:15 -0700

It's up to the viewer to supply the context, the sense of a dwindling, near-subsistence economy in Uncertain. When the camera pulls back on Zach, who wouldn't look out of place as a Capitol Hill barista or an Amazon coder in South Lake Union, you ...

Daily Maverick

Daily Maverick
Mon, 11 May 2015 16:03:45 -0700

Unable to plant their crops, South Sudan's subsistence economy collapsed and famine was only narrowly averted, in large part thanks to the intervention of international humanitarian organisations. Can famine be staved off again? To compound problems ...
Wed, 22 Apr 2015 14:36:14 -0700

In the Gaza Strip, on the other hand, humanitarian programs and subsistence economy are being managed. This is not to mention the oil, tunnels and power crisis.” In an article published by the Badil Research Center, Muheisen said, “[This inequity ...

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