Papua New Guinea - Poverty and wealth

Papua New Guinea has a complex distribution of wealth. The extremely varied and rugged terrain kept some indigenous people of the country isolated from any connection with the "modern world" until as late as 1970. This factor, combined with the belated and rapid economic development from the 1970s, has produced a highly variable distribution of income and wealth. While much of the wealth from economic development has been concentrated in urban centers, cultural factors also feature in the distribution of poverty and wealth. Much of Papua New Guinean society is still very traditional, and differs from European-based societies in several important ways. Papua New Guinean society is centered around agriculture and attachment to the land. Land is rarely sold, but instead is inherited by children. Papua New Guinean society has a complex structure, with many bonds among family members, distant relatives, and neighbors. These bonds include obligations to share wealth, and to give and receive gifts. Papua New Guinean society did not and does not have a tradition of chiefs or leaders who gain their status through inheritance. Instead, in traditional Papua New Guinea society men become leaders through their own efforts, especially through the gaining and sharing of wealth. All of these factors are important in the way that wealth is distributed in the country.

Despite these cultural factors, the Papua New Guinea government has made some efforts to decentralize services—especially health and education—and to provide equal access to them throughout the country. These efforts, begun in the 1970s, have made little difference, if any, in greatly varying levels of income and wealth between

GDP per Capita (US$)
Country 1975 1980 1985 1990 1998
Papua New Guinea 1,048 975 936 888 1,085
United States 19,364 21,529 23,200 25,363 29,683
Australia 14,317 15,721 17,078 18,023 21,881
Indonesia 385 504 603 778 972
SOURCE: United Nations. Human Development Report 2000; Trends in human development and per capita income.

Distribution of Income or Consumption by Percentage Share: Papua New Guinea
Lowest 10% 1.7
Lowest 20% 4.5
Second 20% 7.9
Third 20% 11.9
Fourth 20% 19.2
Highest 20% 56.5
Highest 10% 40.5
Survey year: 1996
Note: This information refers to expenditure shares by percentiles of the population and is ranked by per capita expenditure.
SOURCE: 2000 World Development Indicators [CD-ROM].

urban and remote areas. About 85 percent of the population still depends on subsistence agriculture, and 37 percent of these people are below the poverty line.

Also read article about Papua New Guinea from Wikipedia

User Contributions:

Philip zavere
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May 23, 2013 @ 7:19 pm
Please send me information about PNGs wealth whci includes resores, public enterprises and others.
Chad Jack
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Apr 24, 2019 @ 12:00 am
Most Papua New Guineans do not live in poverty but they live a traditional life.. at least they have enough food for the whole year and they do not have to worry alot about money because all they need comes from nature.
Jeffrey Febi
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Jul 2, 2019 @ 6:18 pm
Availability of food is not a problem to the rural people of Papua New Guinea. But that doesn't mean nutrition is just is great, hence the prevailing malnutrition problem.

Accessibility to affordable health care and not necessarily quality health care is a problem. Both the rural and urban populace face this every day.

Accessibility to affordable education is also a problem in a country where quality education is not part of the every day vocabulary.

Accessibility to markets for trading of goods produced through subsistence farming is a problem. This impacts badly on income generation thereby denying the majority rural populace of much needed cash.

Since much of the population lives in the rural areas, Papua New Guinea is definitely a poor and impoverished country.

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