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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

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14 news items

The Delta Discovery
Tue, 21 Oct 2014 12:52:30 -0700

When it comes to the subsistence economy, Dale and his family are considered wealthy. He has a lot of wild meat, waterfowl, fish, and rare game to share. He is always blessed with game and hardly ever comes home empty handed. Public Service: Alice and ...
Mon, 20 Oct 2014 14:33:45 -0700

He explained that the project seeks to enhance commodity market development aimed at transforming the agricultural sector from a traditional subsistence economy to a modern market-oriented commercial sector. President Jammeh earlier this year ...
Financial Express Bangladesh
Mon, 20 Oct 2014 11:02:22 -0700

In a subsistence economy, smallholders might have an edge over the large ones by virtue of the preponderance of family labour, home consumption, but the spread of infrastructure and closeness to market, dependence on external inputs etc. put the ...
Economic and Political Weekly
Wed, 08 Oct 2014 01:01:37 -0700

This resulted in an “accumulation” economy for a few, replacing the subsistence economy for many. Although the fisher groups were never rich, they never had to resort to casual labour in order to meet their basic needs. Entering the urban informal ...

Bangladesh News 24 hours

Bangladesh News 24 hours
Sat, 04 Oct 2014 10:24:04 -0700

If so, Bangladesh has moved out of the subsistence economy phase with 'unlimited supply of labour' to a competitive economy where any net increase in labour demand is likely to see an increase in the real wage rate. An expansion of employment in any ...

ABC Online

ABC Online
Sun, 28 Sep 2014 16:52:54 -0700

People toiling in a subsistence economy don't have the luxury of feeling bored. Technology has been another key factor in the development of boredom. The mechanical clock, developed in the 13th century, made time visible, measurable and capable of ...
Mon, 22 Sep 2014 03:07:30 -0700

The Project aims to enhance commodity market development aimed at transforming the agricultural sector from a traditional subsistence economy to a modern market oriented commercial sector with well integrated food chains and a viable agro-processing ...
Economic and Political Weekly
Fri, 26 Sep 2014 04:06:02 -0700

Social scientists and policymakers need to be clear on whether the future lies in promoting DBT-based banking, perpetually based on below-subsistence economy, or in sound systems producing economic surpluses that become favourite, attractive, and are ...

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