Sustainable Income, Employment, and Income Distribution in Indonesia

Publication Year : 2007

Production and consumption activities in any economy have a direct impact on the environment. Although increased economic activity and population growth in developing countries continue to exert enormous pressure on their natural environments, the role of the environment is neglected in the estimation of national income. Such neglect at the macroeconomic level is at least in part, an important cause of environmental degradation in developing countries. Since the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development in 1992 at Rio and even as early as middle of the 1980s, a substantial literature had developed on methods to integrate the environment into the economic development process. The main assertion in this literature is that natural resources represent a form of capital that is analogous to the stock of manufactured capital. Sustainable income can be determined by allocating a portion of income to allow for the deprecation of natural capital [Ahmed, El Serafy, and Lutz (1989) and Solow (1992)]. Indonesia had average real GDP growth rates of more than five percent per year up to the early 1990s [World Bank (1994)]. But income inequality (measured by the Gini coefficient) has been high. Although inequality continues to be quite high, especially between rural and urban populations, Indonesia has been successful in poverty alleviation up to mid 1990s. In 1976 almost 40 percent of its population was below the poverty line, which in 1993 decreased to less than 14 percent [Todaro (1994)]. Income distributional consequences of economic growth would continue to be one of the main policy issues in Indonesia. This is due to its large population size, presence of different ethnic and religious groups, large diversity between rural and urban groups, variety of natural resources scattered over the country, huge distances and the effects of a far-flung archipelago [Akita, Lukman, and Yamada (1999)].