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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. Therefore, this type of economy aims to create economic stability so that capital can be accumulated and the inevitable economic surplus can be invested in other potentially lucrative business ventures.[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

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11 news items

Monthly Review
Thu, 17 Apr 2014 13:26:15 -0700

16 different working groups convened to discuss issues that were raised during the strike such as land, collective territories, and territoriality systems; a campesino subsistence economy vs. the model of spoliation; mining and energy; illicit ...

Indian Express

Indian Express
Sat, 12 Apr 2014 11:33:36 -0700

Before that, in the subsistence economy, hunters ate meat, fisherfolk ate fish, foragers ate berries and obesity was unknown. Real economic activity began when a fisherman bartered a mahseer for a forager's papaya (substitute trade goods according to ...

Economic Times

Economic Times
Tue, 15 Apr 2014 16:08:15 -0700

The landscape is peppered with designers, hoteliers, spice growers, taxi operators, retailers, content providers and such, taking advantage of the local subsistence economy or the information highway all the way to infinity. The lack of urban planning ...
The Arctic Sounder
Fri, 11 Apr 2014 20:42:32 -0700

She compared it to the subsistence economy, where 70 percent of the resources are harvested by 30 percent of the people, but the resources are still shared across the entire community. "Never once have I heard of an instance where a hunter withheld ...
Tue, 08 Apr 2014 21:52:26 -0700

What the DA is proposing accords with a doctrine propounded by the famous Peruvian economist, Hernando de Soto, who contends that giving these assets economic value is the most effective way to leverage the poor out of the subsistence economy in ...

Independent Online

Independent Online
Thu, 10 Apr 2014 09:18:45 -0700

What the DA is proposing accords with a doctrine propounded by the world-famous Peruvian economist Hernando de Soto, who contends that giving these assets economic value is the most effective way to leverage the poor out of the subsistence economy ...
Bay Area Indymedia
Wed, 09 Apr 2014 14:45:00 -0700

... frequently involves bearing witness to yet another suddenly-shuttered local business, mostly the ones that don't worry so much about their looks, but instead are packed to the brim with everyday things, the urban version of a subsistence economy ...
Thu, 03 Apr 2014 15:43:03 -0700

After all, now that we're well past a subsistence economy, we live in a world of largely symbolic exchange, where we don't simply choose something because we're hungry or naked but because we want to make a statement about what sort of person we are, ...

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