Author | Editor: Kuznar, E. (NSI, Inc.)
Five datasets on wealth and status distribution in Indonesia were analyzed: 2013 World Bank quintile and decile estimates of income, International Labor Organization (ILO) income by occupation data from 2017 and 2009, and USAID Demographic Health Survey (DHS) wealth factor scores from 2012 and 2007.
The study examines data from three different sources: World Bank, ILO, and USAID DHS. The data provided by all three sources shows a similar pattern of a risk acceptant population. The World Bank provides information on income, the ILO provides occupational data, and USAID DHS provides data on assets per household. The datasets show the highest earning individuals, occupations, and households owning the most assets as the most accepting of risk.
Significance for Risk Taking and Stability
Indonesia has a strongly risk acceptant population with several cultural, ethnic, religious, and socioeconomic fissures that threaten to cause widespread civil strife. Many of these intergovernmental and societal issues are rising to the forefront of Indonesian political dialogue as it begins its 2019 national election cycle (Pepinsky, 2019). The upcoming elections and varied degrees of civil unrest throughout the country make its risk acceptant population a potential threat to Indonesian stability.
Implications for US Interests
The US has many potential strategic interests in Indonesia; however, many of these interests have yet to be realized. Indonesia’s democratic government and regional importance potentially give the US a capable ally to control the valuable waterways that flow through South Eastern Asia and confront China’s encroachment into the South China Sea (Kurlantzick, 2018). However, recent policy changes for the US saw a decrease in the US’ advocacy for democratic expansion, and the ending of its involvement in the Paris Accord has slightly alienated the US from Indonesia. The risk acceptant nature of Indonesia’s population threatens potential US interests by potentially destabilizing an ally and increasing the possibility of terrorism.
Implications for China’s Interests
China views Indonesia’s hostile stance toward Chinese claims in the South China Sea as an abridgement of China’s sovereign rights (Zhen, 2016). To increase its control over Indonesia, it has tried to increase economic leverage through foreign direct investment (FDI) into the country (Tan, 2019). However, Indonesia’s skepticism of Chinese involvement in its economic and political institutions has been making it harder for China to aggressively pursue this end. The risk acceptance of Indonesia’s population gives the Chinese the opportunity to continue to gain political influence by offering aid to a country eager for economic opportunity (Legarda & Hoffman, 2018).
Implications for Russia’s Interests
Russia views Indonesia as a potential country with which it can build its international prestige (Gurganus & Rumer, 2019). Through utilizing arms sales and energy deals, Russia is gaining influence in the South East Asian country (Tsvetov, 2018). Indonesia’s risk acceptant population gives Russia the potential to increase its involvement through instability much in the same way as China by using political instability to sway political leaders in favor of aid (Metz, 2018), while at the same time posing little threat to Russia’s current, overall-weak interests in the country.