This study examines the income-earning potential, the cash
expenditure behaviour and the work effort response of a sample
of handloom wool weavers who operated in both the remote villages
and urban towns of pre-independent Papua New Guinea. Its concern
is thus with the response of these workers to the cash incentive.
Although weaving represented the main cash-earning activity
of the weaver households, they continued to rely on the nonmonetary
traditional economy for a substantial part of their
livelihood. In the Highlands of New Guinea non-monetary garden
production contributed one-third of total household income during
the study period.
The weaving workforce was selected because of the homogeneity
of work effort, because the quantity of work performed and the
earning rates of individual workers could be calculated with some
precision and because there was a high degree of freedom in the
actual work-leisure choice of each participant. It was found
that less than 40 per cent of the potential work time available
to the average weaver was actually used in effective cash-earning
work and, as such, average weekly earnings during the study period
were less than 40 per cent of their potential.