A Weak State and Strong Microsocieties in Papua New Guinea

32 Pages Posted: 2 Dec 2020

See all articles by Nematullah Bizhan

Nematullah Bizhan

Australian National University (ANU)

Emmanuel Gorea

University of Papua New Guinea

Date Written: October 16, 2020


The case of Papua New Guinea (PNG) shows the difficulty of forging a national identity and creating effective state institutions. State weakness and societal fragmentation are dominant. The archipelago nature of the country has had a dominant role in the latter. Politics in this context shows a stable-fragile characteristic. On the one hand, despite persistent political instability, democracy has survived in the past half-century mainly due to societal diversity and the consensual nature of decision-making embedded in communities. On the other, even though PNG is a resource-rich county, successive governments have not converted the economic benefits of the mineral boom into effective development outcomes, and high levels of poverty and inequality exist. We argue that many of these characteristics reinforce each other, trapping the country, for now, in a low-level equilibrium. In this paper, we aim to examine dimensions of state fragility and look at what might change, and how PNG might break out of the equilibrium currently trapping the country in poverty and state weakness.

Keywords: Papua New Guinea, fragile states, state capacity, institutional capacity, political capacity, economic development

JEL Classification: O1, F63

Suggested Citation

Bizhan, Nematullah and Gorea, Emmanuel, A Weak State and Strong Microsocieties in Papua New Guinea (October 16, 2020). Development Policy Centre Discussion Paper No. 88, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3712733 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3712733

Nematullah Bizhan (Contact Author)

Australian National University (ANU)

Canberra, Australian Capital Territory 2601

Emmanuel Gorea

University of Papua New Guinea ( email )

P.O. Box 320, University Post Office
National Capital District

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