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Measuring the ‘real’ indigenous economy in remote Australia using NATSISS 2002


  • Jon Altman

    () (The Australian National University)

  • Geoff Buchanan

    (The Australian National University)


This article utilises a model of the economy that includes the non-market, Indigenous customary sector. It seeks to ‘Indigenise’ the economy by using available NATSISS 2002 data on fishing and hunting activities, art and craft production, and Indigenous people’s ability to meet cultural responsibilities while in employment. Other ABS statistics ignore the non-market sector and hence understate the extent of Indigenous economic participation and wellbeing. Whilst it has significant shortcomings, NATSISS 2002 provides statistics which challenge standard measures of economic activity and development and support the view that the real economy in remote Indigenous Australia is made up of three sectors rather than two. The policy ramifications of this are that the customary sector might provide economic opportunity, and that major programs like the Community Development Employment Projects (CDEP) scheme, as well as land rights and native title, might be useful instruments to facilitate enhanced customary participation with positive livelihood outcomes.

Suggested Citation

  • Jon Altman & Geoff Buchanan, 2006. "Measuring the ‘real’ indigenous economy in remote Australia using NATSISS 2002," Australian Journal of Labour Economics (AJLE), Bankwest Curtin Economics Centre (BCEC), Curtin Business School, vol. 9(1), pages 17-32, March.
  • Handle: RePEc:ozl:journl:v:9:y:2006:i:1:p:17-32

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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. repec:wsi:jdexxx:v:17:y:2012:i:03:n:s1084946712500173 is not listed on IDEAS
    2. Moshe Justman & Kyle Peyton, 2014. "Enforcing Compulsory Schooling by Linking Welfare Payments to School Attendance: Lessons from Australia’s Northern Territory," Melbourne Institute Working Paper Series wp2014n19, Melbourne Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research, The University of Melbourne.
    3. Guyonne Kalb & Trinh Le & Boyd Hunter & Felix Leung, 2012. "Decomposing Differences in Labour Force Status between Indigenous and Non-Indigenous Australians," Melbourne Institute Working Paper Series wp2012n20, Melbourne Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research, The University of Melbourne.
    4. Kyle Peyton & Moshe Justman, 2015. "Credible Enforcement of Compulsory Schooling by Linking Welfare Payments to School Attendance: Lessons from Australia’s Northern Territory," Working Papers 1512, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, Department of Economics.

    More about this item


    Formal and Informal Sectors; Shadow Economy; Institutional Arrangements: Legal; Social; Economic; and Political Comparative Economic Systems; General Cultural Economics; Economic Sociology; Economic Anthropology: General;

    JEL classification:

    • O17 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Formal and Informal Sectors; Shadow Economy; Institutional Arrangements
    • P51 - Economic Systems - - Comparative Economic Systems - - - Comparative Analysis of Economic Systems
    • Z10 - Other Special Topics - - Cultural Economics - - - General


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