‘Growth, Stability, but what about Equity? Reassessing Indonesian Income Inequality from a Comparative Perspective


Inequality estimates derived from household consumption expenditure surveys (Susenas) suggest that economic inequality in Indonesia was comparatively moderate during the rapid economic transition in the Suharto era (1966-1998). Yet the expenditure distribution concept and problems of underreporting and selection bias constrain meaningful international inequality comparisons. This paper reassesses Indonesian inequality from a comparative perspective employing various alternative data sources and indicators. A comparison with Brazil, Mexico, and the US reveals that Indonesian inequality levels are generally closer to Latin American levels than to US levels. Except for large short-term fluctuations, we did not find an overall increasing or decreasing inequality tendency between 1966 and 1998.