The Road to Pro-Poor Growth: The Indonesian Experience in Regional Perspective
“Pro-poor growth” is the new mantra of the development community. Most donor agencies have active research programs underway to understand the pro-poor process, and the World Bank, with British, French and German bilateral support, is already studying how to operationalize the concept (USAID, 2004; World Bank, 2004). Definitions vary, but they all revolve around connecting the poor to rapid economic growth so there is a concomitant rapid reduction in poverty. What is new is the focus on economic growth as the primary vehicle for sustainable reductions in poverty, distributional initiatives and processes playing a secondary role. This exploratory essay, commissioned by the Indonesia Project at Australian National University (ANU), places this new interest in pro-poor growth in regional perspective and then attempts to draw historical and policy lessons for Indonesia.1 The main challenge is to link our relatively robust understanding of the growth process with much more limited understanding of distribution processes. A panel data set of eight Asian countries provides grist for the empirical mill. A revised version of this paper is forthcoming in the Bulletin of Indonesia Economic Studies.