Urbanization in Indonesia

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Urbanization in Indonesia increased tremendously following the country’s rapid development in the 1970s.[1] Since then, Indonesia has been facing high urbanization rate driven by rural-urban migration. In 1950, 15% of Indonesia’s population lived in urban areas. In 1990, 40 years later, this number is doubled to 30%.[2] Indonesia took only another 20 years to increase the urban population to 44% as reported in 2010.[3] The Central Statistics Agency (BPS) reported that the average population density of Jakarta, the capital, had reached more than 14,400 people per square kilometer. BPS also predicted that the population in Jakarta will reach 11 million people in 2020 unless measures are taken to control the population.[4]


Statistics Indonesia classifies Indonesia's fourth-level administrative divisions into urban or rural settlements according to its population density, economic dependence on agriculture, and access to facilities. Following the definition, the country has 15,785 "urban" subdivisions and 61,340 "rural" subdivisions as of the 2010 Census.[5]

Socio-economic effects[edit]

Compared to the high intensity of in rural-urban migration, most local governments in each province are required meet the escalating demand of services and infrastructure in terms of housing, transportation, and employment.[2] When these demands are growing at a faster rate than the availability of infrastructure, there is a ‘socio-economic dualism’ observable within urban society in Indonesia.[6]

Socio-economic dualism portrays modernity and ‘kampung (village)’ society co-existing in urban areas. In Central Java, there are 14.1% or 2092500 people whose incomes are below the poverty line.[7] In West Nusa Tenggara, the number of poor people is reported to be 23.7% out of the total urban population. Firman (2000) argues that this socio-economic dualism depicts the spatial segregation and socio-economic inequality.[8] According to Theil Index T, inequality in Indonesia’s urban cities increased from 0.25 to 0.33 in the period of 1999 to 2002.[9] Without availability of employment catered to the needs of rural-urban migrants, the income segregation between rich and poor in urban areas will worsen. This potentially leads to social friction, political tension as well as discrimination in areas such as education and healthcare.[10] Without proper management and actions taken, the continuous influx or rural-urban migration may pose as a serious threat to the infrastructure in the urban cities. In terms of transportation for instance, traffic crisis costs Jakarta $1.4 billion a year due to traffic congestion and public transportation.[11]


One of the implications of urbanization and development in Indonesia is the changing demographics in the rural areas. According to the United Nations Department of Economics and Social Affairs, population aged over 60 in Indonesia is expected to rise by 16% by 2050 which indicates the rapidly ageing population in Indonesia.[12]

Secondly, there are more youths moving to cities in search of better employment opportunities now due to urbanization. This leaves behind a large number of the ageing population of Indonesia to live on their own in the rural areas.[dubious ] The main source of income for the people in the rural areas comes from agriculture. Statistics from the Agricultural Ministry show that out of the 140 million farmers in the country, 80% of them are aged 45 and above.[13] With men moving out of the rural areas in large quantities, there will be insufficient people taking over agricultural practices from the ageing farmers. Many attribute this movement of the youths to the manual and hard labour that is required of them to work on farms. Also, the youths do not want to face the risks of having a bad harvest. This leads to a major concern for the country regarding the agricultural industry. There is a possibility of a food crisis in the near future if production levels are not increased. Ageing farmers continue with their basic and manual methods of farming due to low skills and low education levels. Productivity level in the agricultural industry is low as a result of this. Vice President Boediono warned that the current levels of food production will not be sufficient to balance the increasing population in the near future.[14]

Another problem of rapid urbanization is the fall in investments in rural infrastructure. There are abundant investments in urbanization projects. Populations of people living in urban areas are predicted to increase by more than 65% by 2030. However, after 1980, investments in rural projects began to fall. Transport systems and roads are very critical forms of infrastructure that help in the development of rural areas. Farmers require better roads and a more efficient transport system to be able to access larger markets outside of their villages. Studies show that half of the kabupaten roads, which make up to 72% of the road network are in poor condition.[15] Moreover, the absence of adequate investments in rural projects further accentuates the rate of migration of youths from villages to cities. Youths do not have a platform for progress in such areas where there are no efforts made to improve their lifestyles.

Healthcare services in rural parts of Indonesia have also worsened with the fall in investments in rural infrastructure. The aged do not have proper and affordable healthcare services which is very essential for them given their age and job as farmers. Statistics show that in East Kalimantan, the number of villages which have a hospital has decreased from 37 in 2005 to 33 in 2008.[16] Also, the number of Puskemas (Public Health Centre) – the health centre which is specifically targeted to the lower income families - in West Java, Central Java, and East Java as well as South and East Kalimantan have decreased from 222 in 2005 to 209 in 2008.[17] Indonesia also suffers from a lack of healthcare professionals such as doctors and nurses. The bulk of them remain at urban areas which has caused a shortage of doctors and nurses in the rural areas. The poor people in rural areas do not have a strong and efficient healthcare system to turn to in times of need.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Resudarmo; Suryadarma. "The Effect of Childhood Migration on Human Capital Accumulation: Evidence from Rural-Urban Migrants in Indonesia" (PDF). Australian National University. Retrieved February 16, 2012.
  2. ^ a b Sarosa, Wicaksono (2006). B. Roberts and T. Kanaley (ed.). Urbanization and Sustainability in Asia: Case Studies of Good Practice. Chapter 7. Indonesia. Manila: Asian Development Bank.
  3. ^ "CIA World Factbook on Indonesia". Retrieved February 16, 2012.
  4. ^ Annez; Buckley (2009). "Chapter 1. Urbanization and Growth: Setting the Context" (PDF). Urbanization and Growth. Commission on Growth and Development. Retrieved February 14, 2012.
  6. ^ Rukmana, Deden. "Urbanization and Suburbanization in Jakarta". Retrieved February 14, 2012.
  7. ^ "Statistik Indonesia 2011". Indonesia Central Bureau of Statistics (CBS). Retrieved February 17, 2012.
  8. ^ Firman, Tommy (2004). "New Town Development in Jakarta Metropolitan Region: A perspective of spatial segregation". Habitat International. 28 (3): 349–368. doi:10.1016/s0197-3975(03)00037-7.
  9. ^ Akita; Pirmansah. "Urban Inequality in Indonesia" (PDF). International University of Japan: Economic & Management series. International University of Japan. Retrieved February 15, 2012.
  10. ^ Banyan (May 13, 2010). "The Elusive Fruits of Inclusive Growth". The Economist Blog. Retrieved February 16, 2012.
  11. ^ "Editorial: Turning Jakarta Into a World-Class City". Retrieved February 16, 2012.
  12. ^ "Population Ageing and Development 2009". Department of Economic and Social Affairs. United Nations. 2010. Retrieved February 11, 2012.
  13. ^ Sulthani, Lenita. "Aging Farmers Threaten Indonesian Food Security". The Jakarta Globe. Retrieved February 13, 2012.
  14. ^ "Food Crisis Looming, Warns Boediono". The Jakarta Post. Retrieved February 18, 2012.
  15. ^ "Issues on Rural & Agriculture in Indonesia". The World Bank. Retrieved February 16, 2012.
  16. ^ Statistical Pocketbook of Indonesia 2010. Central Statistics Agency of Indonesia. 2010.
  17. ^ "Export Market Opportunities for Healthcare Services in Indonesia November 2010" (PDF). Victoria State Government Business Office. Retrieved February 20, 2012.