The Newsletter 59 Spring 2012

Inverted state-building and local resource politics in Eastern Indonesia

Jaap Timmer

Resosudarmo, BP & Frank Jotzo (eds). 2009. Working with Nature Against Poverty: Development, Resources and the Environment in Eastern Indonesia. Singapore: Institute of Southeast Asian Studies. xii+359 pp. ISBN 9789812309594 (paperback)

Compared to Java, Eastern Indonesia (East Nusa Tenggara, Maluku and Papua) is poor. Average per capita income in these three regions is about half of that in Java and is not expected to catch up in the foreseeable future. Levels of life expectancy are even more depressing. Papua stands out as it is richest in terms of natural resources but poorest when it comes to human development and governance. In Papua life expectancy rose only 8.5 years between 1975 and 2002, compared to Javas’s 20.5. Similar trends are reported for infant mortality. Interestingly if the Jakarta metropolitan region were to be left out of these calculations, life expectancy figures as well as those for education would be about equal to those for Java in the 1980s. What explains these differences, what kind of solutions may be offered, and what are the social and environment trade-offs if poverty is alleviated through facilitating and stimulating natural resource extraction?

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