Have living standards improved in PNG over the last two decades?


Event Details

  • Date:

1:30–2:30pm Canberra time (AEDT) / Papua New Guinea time 12:30–1:30pm (PGT)

Did living standards improve in Papua New Guinea over the last two decades, and especially as a result of the resource boom of the 2000s? This question remains unanswered to date. The best source to answer it is the PNG Demographic and Health Surveys for 1996, 2006 and 2016–18. Analysis of these surveys leads to three conclusions. First, there are clearly some ways in which living standards have improved: more households have rainwater tanks; more children are at school, albeit from a low base; and childhood mortality rates have fallen. Second, there are areas of regress: less access to traditional media and worse health services. Third, there are areas of stagnation: no growth in the importance of non-agricultural jobs, and little sign of significantly improved status for and equity of women. Overall, the results show some benefits from economic growth, but also areas of real concern, and little sign of the structural transformation needed for sustained and successful development. Interestingly, the analysis also reveals a trend to convergence between urban and rural living standards.

Speakers

Dr Manoj Pandey is a Lecturer in Economics, working as part of the partnership between the ANU Crawford School of Public Policy and the UPNG School of Business and Public Policy.

Professor Stephen Howes is Director of the Development Policy Centre.

This presentation is based on the speakers’ chapter in the forthcoming ANU-UPNG edited volume on contemporary issues in PNG.

The ANU-UPNG seminar series is part of the partnership between the ANU Crawford School of Public Policy and the UPNG School of Business and Public Policy, supported by the PNG-Aus Partnership.

This seminar is free and open to the public. Registration is required to attend the seminar.

Arichika Okazaki

Arichika Okazaki is a Program Officer at the Development Policy Centre.

5 Comments

  • Hello, I would really like to attend but cannot due to work requirements. Would a video on this be posted online? (If so, where).

    Thank you.

    • Also, the book which contains this research is about to be published. Look out for it “Papua New Guinea: government, economy and society” edited by Howes and Pillai, published by ANU Press.

  • And the reason for choosing the last two decades is? A bit more casual empiricism: `The best source to answer it is the PNG Demographic and Health Surveys for 1996, 2006 and 2016–18′.
    I do hope there will be comparison with other countries when for so many in so many countries the period since the early 1970s is not one of major improvements in living standards. Why should conditions for the bulk of PNG’s population be any different might be worth asking.

    • For the whole world, the whole world excluding China, and for many, many individual countries the period since the 1970s has been one of major improvements in living standards. I would direct any readers interested in this claim to the information on Our World in Data, in particular that on poverty globally, by region, and country.

      https://ourworldindata.org/extreme-poverty

      Their website is very helpful, and covers other living standards indicators although I find the extreme poverty discussion particularly helpful.

      I am sure the authors can answer any questions on the DHS if they wish, but I would also just like to please flag that the alternative repeated (not panel but repeat cross section), namely the census (if you wanted to rely on less ideal proxy variables, like housing or population) or the HIES, do not take us through to the present (rather, around ten years ago), so the DHS is not only the best source but the only source that can do this quantitatively in a nationally representative way.

      With best wishes,

      Ryan

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