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The Distributional Impact of Fiscal Policy in Indonesia


  • Jon Jellema

    (CEQ Institute)

  • Matthew Wai-Poi

    (World Bank)

  • Rythia Afkar

    (World Bank)


In recent years, income inequality has become a pressing issue in Indonesian politics. From 2000-2014, a rise in GDP per capita coincided with a 10% rise in the country’s Gini coefficient. This paper uses the 2012 National Socioeconomic Survey (SUSENAS) collected by the Central Statistical Agency in Indonesia and 2012 public expenditure and revenue data from the Audit Board of the Republic of Indonesia (BPK), to generate an empirical framework that assesses the redistributive impact of several fiscal measures undertaken by the Indonesian government. This paper finds that every income decile represented in SUSENAS is a net receiver from fiscal policy after taxes, transfers, in-kind transfers and subsidies are all added to “market income” to create “final income.” Gains amongst the poorest household are made much greater by the inclusion of in-kind transfers for health and education. However, SUSENAS included very few of the richest 0.5% of Indonesians, who account for the majority of personal income tax (PIT) collections, so it was assumed that Indonesians do not pay income tax. Interestingly, this study finds that 40% of the poor, measured at “consumable income,” are impoverished by taxes and transfers. This percentage drops considerably with the addition of in-kind transfers. Overall, it was found that fiscal policy does reduce inequality and poverty by a modest amount. The Gini index is lowered from 0.394 to 0.370 under the study’sbaseline scenario, which differs only slightly from scenarios utilizing different underlying assumptions. The poverty headcount (measured at $1.25 UDS per day) is reduced from 12.1% to 10.5%.

Suggested Citation

  • Jon Jellema & Matthew Wai-Poi & Rythia Afkar, 2017. "The Distributional Impact of Fiscal Policy in Indonesia," Commitment to Equity (CEQ) Working Paper Series 40, Tulane University, Department of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:tul:ceqwps:40

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Marisa Bucheli & Nora Lustig & Máximo Rossi & Florencia Amábile, 2012. "Social Spending, Taxes and Income Redistribution in Uruguay," Documentos de Trabajo (working papers) 1212, Department of Economics - dECON.
    2. Cabrera, Maynor & Lustig, Nora & Morán, Hilcías E., 2015. "Fiscal Policy, Inequality, and the Ethnic Divide in Guatemala," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 76(C), pages 263-279.
    3. Dartanto, Teguh, 2013. "Reducing fuel subsidies and the implication on fiscal balance and poverty in Indonesia: A simulation analysis," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 58(C), pages 117-134.
    4. John Scott, 2014. "Redistributive Impact and Efficiency of Mexico’s Fiscal System," Public Finance Review, , vol. 42(3), pages 368-390, May.
    5. Beckerman, W, 1979. "The Impact of Income Maintenance Payments on Poverty in Britain, 1975," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 89(354), pages 261-279, June.
    6. Sean Higgins & Claudiney Pereira, 2014. "The Effects of Brazil’s Taxation and Social Spending on the Distribution of Household Income," Public Finance Review, , vol. 42(3), pages 346-367, May.
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    Cited by:

    1. World Bank, 2018. "Indonesia Economic Quarterly, March 2018," World Bank Other Operational Studies 29616, The World Bank.

    More about this item


    fiscal incidence; taxation; social spending; inequality; poverty; Indonesia;

    JEL classification:

    • H22 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - Incidence
    • D31 - Microeconomics - - Distribution - - - Personal Income and Wealth Distribution
    • I38 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty - - - Government Programs; Provision and Effects of Welfare Programs

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