Discussion paper

The formal, the informal, and the precarious: making a living in urban Papua New Guinea

Employment Income Economics Research economic aspects Papua New Guinea

Overview: For many Papua New Guineans, the dominant accounts of ‘the economy’ – contained within development reports, government documents and the media – do not adequately reflect their experiences of making a living. Large-scale resource extraction, the private sector, export cash cropping and wage employment have dominated these accounts. Meanwhile, the broader economic picture has remained obscured, and the diversity of economic practices, including a flourishing ‘informal’ economy, has routinely been overlooked and undervalued. Addressing this gap, this paper provides some grounded examples of the diverse livelihood strategies people employ in Papua New Guinea’s growing urban centres.

This discussion paper examines the strategies people employ to sustain themselves materially, and focuses on how people acquire and recirculate money. In doing so it reveals the interconnections between a diverse range of economic activities, both formal and informal.


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