Child Poverty and Disparities in Urban Area

Team Member: Rachma Indah Nurbani, Emmy Hermanus, Rendy Adriyan Diningrat, Sofni Indah Arifa Lubis, Cecilia Marlina, Novita Maizir , Mirza Izati
Completion Year:
DKI Jakarta, Jawa Tengah, Sulawesi Selatan
Children, Adolescence & Youth, Governance, Institutions, and Decentralization, Poverty & Inequality

Collaborating Partners

Funding body:


Description & Progress

This study aims to better understand the scale and nature of poverty and exclusion affecting children in urban areas.



Indonesia has experienced rapid economic growth, which is mostly concentrated in urban areas in certain regions and has become the main pull factor for rapid urbanization. Alongside this is the associated push factor related to limited economic opportunities in rural areas as a result of the decline in agricultural productivity. The impacts of urbanization represent two sides of a coin; on one side, it can offer opportunities for Indonesia to further its economic growth and to decrease its poverty rate. However, on other side it could also give rise to many challenges, including a potential increase in urban poverty. Even though the poverty rate is higher in rural areas, the general poverty rate in urban areas is increasing—as is the child poverty rate. Children who live in cities are often assumed to have better access to basic services such as schools and hospitals. However, their physical proximity does not always ensure that children can access these services (UNICEF, 2012).

After the completion of the 2010 Child Poverty and Disparities Study in Indonesia and the follow-up study in 2012, UNICEF and SMERU agreed to continue deepening the understanding of child poverty and disparities, focusing on children in urban areas. This initiative is in anticipation of the rapid increase in urban population, accompanied by declining progress in reducing urban poverty.


Methodology and Data

This study using qualitative methods and focusing on the perspective of children in relatively poor households. In addition, it is complemented with a brief quantitative assessment, exploring multidimensional child poverty and disparity among urban children in Indonesia. The qualitative assessments were conducted in two kecamatan (sub-district level administrative areas) in the three selected cities – Jakarta, Solo, and Makassar – and were conducted in May-June 2015.


Research Highlight

The report shows that Poverty is perceived to affect both material and non-material aspects of children’s lives. Nevertheless, the way children describe their experience differs across genders and age groups. At a younger age, children tend to focus on material aspects, while older children have more exposure to social environments and start to recognize social status. Children's interactions with their surrounding environment are two-sided. On one hand, their environment can provide a source of strength in facing life’s challenges. However, on the other hand, it can also be a source of vulnerability that affects the welfare of the children. Family is the most important source of support for children. Nevertheless, if the family is not properly functioning it can be a driving factor in pushing children into negative situations, including delinquency. Reduced family function is a reason for children to seek an escape in environments outside of the family, which in turn can incorporate them in various forms of delinquency.

Outside the family children also have interactions with peers and other external social layers, which can significantly influence their welfare in both positive and negative ways. Children from poor families are more at risk of experiencing interactions that are a potential source of vulnerability. Among all layers of interaction, family is the most crucial aspect in influencing children’s wellbeing. Therefore, any intervention or policy aiming to address vulnerability and improve the resilience of urban poor children needs to consider the family as a unit of intervention.



The team presented the study findings to relevant partners, including:

Panel presentation titled “Mendengar Suara Anak yang Hidup dalam Kemiskinan di Perkotaan” by Emmy Hermanus at Lokakarya Peranan Pemerintah Daerah dalam Upaya Peningkatan Kesejahteraan Masyarakat Miskin on 29 March 2016 at Surakarta. 



Urban Child Poverty and Disparity: The Unheard Voices of Children living in Poverty in Indonesia


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