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In this study of labour-leisure choice, a labour supply equation is derived from a Stone-Geary utility function and extended to incorporate several 'non-economic' variables. Such variables are made functions of the 'minimum subsistence' quantities which characterise the standard Stone-Geary model. The model is then estimated on cross-sectional data obtained from a field survey of quasi-subsistent piece rate producer-consumers living and working in a number of New Guinean villages. Approximately two-thirds of the observed variation in the weekly work commitment of the sampled workers was explained by the model. The response of cash work commitment to variation in earning rates was found, on average, to be highly inelastic and slightly negative in direction. The econometric approach adopted herein is offered as an alternative to the less formal analyses of Melanesian labour response hitherto undertaken by economic anthropologists.


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