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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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401 news items

Daily Trojan Online
Wed, 22 Apr 2015 20:56:15 -0700

China has made huge strides in the past several decades, transforming from a rural, subsistence economy to a bustling interntional marketplace. That growth, however, must be paralleled by an equally revolutionary metamorphosis from a socially ...
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 ...


Thu, 23 Apr 2015 10:15:00 -0700

The CIA reported direct unemployment as 27% – an extraordinary percentage in a near subsistence economy where indirect unemployment is usually a driving factor. While it could not update many of its key estimates of Yemen's economic progress, its most ...

Fairbanks Daily News-Miner

Fairbanks Daily News-Miner
Sat, 18 Apr 2015 10:15:00 -0700

... St. Lawrence Island, 164 miles off Alaska's western coast in the Bering Sea. The plane was set to carry precious cargo for Savoonga villagers: reindeer meat they hope will provide much-needed cash in the mostly subsistence economy of the village of ...
The Independent
Sun, 19 Apr 2015 15:30:00 -0700

Augustsus Nuwagaba, a poverty alleviation expert, says Uganda hardly has a middle class to speak of. "Uganda has a 68% subsistence economy and the other 32% is what constitutes a monetary economy. But even of those 32%, some 90% live in Kampala.
Solomon Star
Tue, 14 Apr 2015 19:03:45 -0700

Dear Editor – I read with great interest Waeta Ben Tabusasi's and J.R William's letters to the editor, Star No.5787 dated Thursday 9 April, 2015. As a former reasonable political leader and senior citizen of our beloved country, one can say with ...

Deutsche Welle

Deutsche Welle
Mon, 13 Apr 2015 04:15:00 -0700

The world's biggest island is desperate to find a market for seal fur to help sustain the subsistence economy. Ilulissat. The number of full-time seal hunters has been falling. Greenlanders insist their methods of dispatching the marine mammals are humane.

The Globe and Mail

The Globe and Mail
Fri, 10 Apr 2015 23:56:15 -0700

In the modern age, they amount to a subsistence economy or something only slightly better. This means government help for a lot of people. The Tsilhqot'in fought very hard against commercial intrusions in the territory over which they claimed ...

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