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Microeconomics

Japhet Koena is 30 and has been working as a prison warder in Papua New Guinea for seven years. After training he was posted to Baisu prison, in the Western Highlands of PNG, where he still works. The prison is near the town of Mount Hagen, which has a population of 40,000, making it one of the biggest in the country. Koena lives with his wife and their daughter in a house in the prison grounds. He plays volleyball with his colleagues every weekend.





Japhet Koena
Japhet Koena

Income, basic costs, retirement provisions

Koena earns the equivalent of €750 a month (£662), of which about €128 goes towards his pension fund. It will all be paid out to him as a lump sum later, so that he will be able to buy a house with a bit of land when he retires. He also pays about €180 a month in tax and spends the same amount on food for himself and his family. The rent for the house on the prison premises and the kindergarten fee for his four-year-old daughter both come to €5 a week/month? each. He does not have health insurance. Basic healthcare is free in Papua New Guinea, though extras such as X-rays have to be paid for.

What does work mean to you?

I am the only one in my family who is in paid employment. I support nearly the whole family by sending them money. I help my parents, my four sisters and other relatives.

What is the most important thing in your life?

To have a profession that I can earn money with. It means I can decide for myself how to live my life.

What would you like to change about your life?

I would like to have a career in my profession. My aim is to be promoted soon and one day to be in a managerial position. To do so, I plan to go to university next year. I have already saved up the money for the tuition fees.

What are your biggest problems and how do you handle them?

My wife does not give me enough support. When I get home from work, exhausted, my dinner should be ready. But usually it is not and I have to prepare it myself. When I complain about that, we quarrel.

What do you do to give yourself a treat?

I love going out for a drink with friends. We go to a shop and buy a few cans of beer. Then we go home, have a drink and listen to music.

What would you do if you did not have to think about earning a living for a whole year?

I would move to the coast, buy a small boat and go fishing every day. I would set off by 5am every morning and spend the whole day out on the water. The boat would have to be big enough to have room for some friends. Then we would fish and talk all day long.

Papua New Guinea

Population: 8 million
Currency: kina (PGK)
(€1/£0.90 = 3.8 kina)
GDP per capita (2014): €2,472 (£2,189)
Human Development Index (2016) ranked: 154, Germany ranked 4; UK ranked 16

Current average costs

1 litre of petrol: €0.94 (83p)
1 rolled cigarette: €0.26
1 medium sugar cane: €0.13
1 chicken: €7.85
1 small bunch of cooking bananas: €9.15
5 big carrots: €0.52