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The economics of social subordination : gender relations and market failure in the highlands of Papua New Guinea

Overfield, Duncan (1995) The economics of social subordination : gender relations and market failure in the highlands of Papua New Guinea. PhD thesis, University of Leeds.

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Abstract

This thesis is concerned with the causes and consequences of the market failure that is generated by the social subordination of women in the Highlands of Papua New Guinea (PNG). It is argued that the development impasse in PNG, noted by a number of observers, has its principle antecedents in the extreme economic and social discrimination facing women. Gender based discrimination occurs within the context of dualistic modes of social relations of production: (1) the pre- incorporation social order, which was patriarchal; (2) capitalist market exchange relations which followed the widespread introduction of cash cropping. These two modes combine to alter the price signals determined by the world market, and domestic pricing policy, at an intrahousehold level. That is individual incentives are not determined by world markets but by household power structures, in particular the pervasive nature of patriarchy; this provides the basis for gendered market failure in the Highlands of PNG. Market failure in the Highlands takes the form of the underallocation of labour and land to coffee production. This is a direct result of the poor labour returns that women receive; they receive around one-third of those of men. Women's returns are so low that their labour returns are higher in food production and they act as rational economic beings and apply more of their labour to this endeavour. Whilst behaving in a rational manner to the incentives they face, this must necessarily reduce household income levels because labour returns from food production are much lower than those associated with cof fee cultivation. Patriarchy creates an uneven pattern of intrahousehold distribution of coffee income, which generates perverse (non-efficient) individual incentives which lead to market failure. Additionally, the intrahousehold distribution of tasks is so uneven that many households face a 'female' labour constraint, particularly during the peak coffee harvesting period (flush). This reduces the ability of the household to respond to changing incentives, such as increased coffee prices. Poor economic incentives for women and socially determined labour constraints combine to create a vicious gendered circle of underdevelopment in the Highlands of Papua New Guinea.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Academic Units: The University of Leeds > Faculty of Environment (Leeds) > School of Geography (Leeds)
Depositing User: Ethos Import
Date Deposited: 19 Apr 2010 11:18
Last Modified: 06 Mar 2014 16:54
URI: http://etheses.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/808

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