Visualizing Population Dynamics of Alaska’s Arctic Communities


  • Lawrence C. Hamilton
  • Angela M. Mitiguy



demography, population, migration, birth rate, mortality, Alaska, Arctic, village, demographic transition, Arctic Observing Network


Arctic demography has previously been reviewed on a large scale, across the circumpolar nations. We look instead at some recent population dynamics on sub-regional to community scales, focusing on Arctic Alaska. Detailed graphics depicting yearly population changes from 1990 to 2006 in 43 selected Arctic Alaska towns and villages and all 27 of the state’s “county-equivalent entities” (e.g., boroughs) have been published online in connection with two International Polar Year projects. Seemingly comparable places within the same borough have taken widely divergent paths. Birth rates generally exceed death rates, although both are high. Year-to-year and place-to-place variations are dominated not by natural increase, but by differences in net migration. Population changes influence demand for resources such as water, electricity, fuel, and capital improvements, and probably for subsistence resources as well. Migration rates provide sensitive indicators that integrate diverse internal and external pressures.