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It's hard to imagine our lives without coins, banknotes and credit cards.Yet for most of human history people lived without money. Forthousands of years human societies had very simple economies. Therewere no shops, markets ortraders. There were no employers, paidworkers or salaries. Today, we call this kind of economy the traditionaleconomy, and in some parts of Asia, South America and Africa thissystem still exists.People who live in a traditional economy don't have money because theydon'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 inthe traditional economy, and there is almost no property. Families mayown simple accommodation, but land is shared by all the tribe.Economic decisions are taken according to the customs of the tribe. Forexample, every family may need to give some of the crops they grow tothe tribal leader, but keep the rest for themselves. They don't do thisbecause it makes economic sense. They do it because the tribe hasalways 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 didbefore them. Anyway, there aren't many jobs to choose from in thetraditional economy. Men are hunters, farmers or both. The woman'splace is at home looking after children, cooking and home-making. Thisdivision of labour between men and women is another characteristic ofthe traditional economy. Whatever the work is, and whoever does it, youcan be sure it's hard work. This is because traditional economies have3almost no technology. Physical strength and knowledge of theenvironment are the tools for survival.Like any other economic system, the traditional economy has its benefitsand drawbacks. Probably the biggest benefit is that these are peacefulsocieties. People consume almost everything they produce and ownpractically nothing. They are equally poor. For all these reasons, war isalmost unknown in these societies.However, people who live in traditional societies are among the poorestpeople in the world. Because custom decides what people do, nothing inthese societies ever changes. Because there is no technology, peopl edepend on nature to survive. They have no protection fromenvironmental disasters like droughts and floods. They are always indanger of hunger and disease.But the traditional economy is in danger itself. There are only a fewexamples left on the planet. In 100 years from now, it may havedisappeared forever.