Child Poverty and Disparities in Urban Area


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.

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.


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.

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Widjajanti Isdijoso
Luhur Bima
Team Member 
Luhur Bima
Rachma Indah Nurbani
Sofni Indah Arifa Lubis
Novita Maizir
Rendy Adriyan Diningrat
Cecilia Marlina
Emmy Hermanus
Mirza Izati
Team Member External 
Mirza Izati
Completion Year 
Type of Service