The Impact of Rising Inequality on Conflict and Crime in Indonesia: What Does the Evidence Say?

Athia Yumna • Asep Suryahadi
Policy brief SMERU Research Institute • February 2015 Indonesia


Inequality can have a strong impact on societal stability. Equitable and sustainable prosperity is needed for societal stability and, conversely, societal stability is often a requirement for prosperity. Thus, the importance of societal stability for the ethnically diverse and hugely populated Indonesia cannot be overlooked. Indonesia is a young democracy that went through an economic as well as political transition in 1997/1998. Although democracy is seen as a non-violent mechanism for conflict resolution, the practice of democracy in low and lower-middle income countries is often complicated by violence, even civil war (see Hegre et al., 2001; Synder, 2000). To a large extent, the Indonesian experience is similar to other developing nations, as the country's move toward democracy was accompanied by a significant eruption of violent conflict. Violent conflict or group/collective violence in contemporary Indonesia could be broadly categorized as either episodic or routine (Tadjoeddin and Murshed, 2007; Tadjoeddin 2014). The former consists of separatist and ethnic violence, while the latter focuses on group brawls and vigilante violence. While episodic violence is typically associated with a high number of deaths and a relatively low number of incidents, the routine variety is characterized by a high number of incidents but minimal deaths.




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