The Economy of the North points out that economic data can often be misleading when dealing with northern regions. Because of their small populations, relative dependence on resource-extraction activities and transfer payments, and the prevalence of 'non-cash' subsistence activities, economic measures designed for national economies do not always do a good job of capturing what is really going on in northern economies. The authors warn that although northern territories often have relatively high levels of GDP per capita, this can be misleading:

"One should be aware, though, that high GDP per capita levels do not automatically transform to high levels of disposable income and/or consumption, in particular not in the regions with substantial extractive industries. On the one hand, resource rents and return to capital may be transferred out of the region to capital owners. Although, these figures will still add to regional GDP, they will not be available for consumption or saving in the region. On the other hand, direct state transfers will contribute to per capita levels of disposable income and/or consumption, but will not show up in regional GDP figures. Hence, a ranking of regional disposable income levels or consumption levels in the Arctic may follow a different order from GDP per capita."
(Chapter 2: The economy of the circumpolar Arctic, The Economy of the North, p.17)

Source: Arctic Human Development Report II

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