subsistence economy

(noun) An economy that depends on nonmarket mechanisms such as reciprocity and redistribution instead of money as a means of production and exchange.

Example: Hunting and gathering groups.

Audio Pronunciation: (sub·sis·tence e·con·omy)

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Usage Notes:

  • Plural: subsistence economies
  • Subsistence economies typically meet the minimum needs of the population and but do not create a surplus for trade. Groups that have subsistence economies typically rely on simple technology such as digging sticks and have minimal specialization in their division of labor.
  • Once called natural economy but now rarely used because of the problematic nature of the word “natural.”

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