It's hard to imagine our lives without coins, banknotes and credit cards. Yet for most of human history people lived without money. For thousands of years human societies had very simple economies. There were no shops, markets or traders. There were no employers, paid workers or salaries. Today, we call this kind of economy the traditional economy, and in some parts of Asia, South America and Africa this system still exists.
People who live in a traditional economy don't have money because they don't need it. They live lives of subsistence. That means they hunt, gather or grow only enough food to live. There is almost no surplus in the traditional economy, and there is almost no property. Families may own simple accommodation, but land is shared by all the tribe. Economic decisions are taken according to the customs of the tribe. For example, every family may need to give some of the crops they grow to the tribal leader, but keep the rest for themselves. They don't do this because it makes economic sense. They do it because the tribe has always done it. It's simply a custom.
Custom, also, decides what jobs people do in the
traditional economy. People generally do the jobs
that their parents and grandparents did before
them. Anyway, there aren't many jobs to choose
from in the traditional economy. Men are hunters, farmers or both. The woman's place is at home looking after children, cooking and home-making.
This division of labour between men and women is another characteristic of the traditional economy.
Whatever the work is, and whoever does it, you can be sure it's hard work. This is because traditional economies have almost no technology. Physical strength and knowledge of the environment are the tools for survival.
Like any other economic system, the traditional economy has its benefits and drawbacks. Probably the biggest benefit is that these are peaceful societies. People consume almost everything they produce and own... [continues]
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