The Arctic currently holds a prominent place in global policy. It is a sparsely populated region experiencing major consequences of global change, such as climate change, shifting demographics, and globalization. These substantial and rapid changes create both opportunities and risks for economic development. Informed policy-making for sustainable development in the Arctic will require an understanding of the specific structures of arctic economies, with a focus on the existence of mixed economies that contain both subsistence and market aspects, the interplay among different economic systems, and the broader contexts in which they function. This paper presents a conceptual framework that allows for comparative analysis of arctic economies within their institutional, social, cultural, and environmental contexts. Utilization of the conceptual framework will enable more complete system-level analyses by helping to describe the complex relationships among apparently disparate parts of the Arctic’s diverse economic systems. The framework can be used across the social and natural sciences, practice, and policy-making. Furthermore, this framework is applicable to regions outside of the Arctic that also have distinct mixed subsistence and market economies.