Panel discussion on multidimensional inequality in Indonesia

9 Aug 2017
Jakarta, Indonesia

Income inequality in Indonesia has soared over the last two decades. This trend has generated a dynamic dialogue in the country on how to implement relevant commitments of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and ensure that no one is left behind. To strengthen this dialogue, ESCAP supported the Indonesia Development Forum 2017 (IDF 2017), which took place on 9-10 August 2017 in Jakarta, with the theme of “Fighting Inequality for Better Growth”. IDF 2017 featured many interactive panels, where trends and promising policies were discussed. For example, the Government of Indonesia has set a very promising target of reducing the Gini income index from 0.40 (2015) to 0.36 by 2020.

During IDF 2017, ESCAP co-organized, together with Bappenas and Indonesia’s key development partners, two session that discussed solutions for addressing inequality. The first of the two sessions focused on analyzing Inequality of Opportunity in Indonesia, based on a study ( commissioned by ESCAP as part of a global UN initiative on socioeconomic inequalities. The study reviewed progress in key opportunities: health, education, employment, water and sanitation and clean energy access. The paper concludes that despite significant progress in reducing poverty and improving access to opportunities for all, several gaps remained. In some cases, inequality had even increased, as was the case, for example, in the widening gap in the number of years of education between families in the lowest 40 per cent and top 10 per cent.

The second session discussed broader regional issues in understanding Multi-dimensional Inequality in Asia and the Pacific. The speakers in the panel concluded that a neglected area of research was inequality in quality of available services. For example, although primary education goals may have been already achieved, the effective literacy rates of primary school children vary dramatically within and across countries. Speakers identified various drivers of these inequalities, including sometimes poorly designed policy interventions. In prioritizing interventions for the future, many participants emphasized the importance of focusing on early childhood development and on upper secondary education, as well as on better design of tax and transfer schemes.