Jakarta, Indonesia, December 8, 2015 – Fifteen years of sustained economic growth in Indonesia have helped to reduce poverty and create a growing middle class.
However, growth over the past decade has primarily benefitted the richest 20% and left behind the remaining 80% of the population—that is more than 205 million people.
Rasma, who sells ice on a cart in the country's capital, is among those who are still left behind. Despite working from 4am to 10pm every day, Rasma still finds it difficult to make ends meet in supporting his family.
"I see that Jakarta has developed in the last few years, but I haven't developed at all," he said.
The Indonesian people are concerned that inequality is climbing fast
Indonesia's level of inequality is now considered to be relatively high and climbing faster than most of its East Asian neighbors.
Between 2003 and 2010, consumption per person for the richest 10% of Indonesians grew at over 6% per year after adjusting for inflation. But for the poorest 40%, consumption grew by less than 2% per year.
The result? A sharp increase in the Gini coefficient over the past 15 years, increasing from 30 in 2000 to 41 in 2013.
Indonesians are concerned. A 2014 survey on public perceptions of inequality report that most Indonesians consider income distribution in Indonesia to be "very unequal" or "not equal at all"; these respondents are urging government action.
"I feel conditions now are unfair," said Nandang, a casual agriculture worker. "The poor continues to have a hard life, while those who are already rich can easily get richer. If the government can do something to help, I would love to get a decent job."
Indeed, the consequences of doing nothing may be grave: a likely slowdown in economic growth and poverty reduction, compounded by increasing risk for conflict.
61% of respondents are willing to accept lower economic growth in exchange for lower inequality.