Local Conflict in Indonesia: Measuring Incidence and Identifying Patterns
49 Pages Posted: 20 Apr 2016
Date Written: August 2004
The widespread presence of local conflict characterizes many developing countries such as Indonesia. Outbreaks of violent conflict not only have direct costs for lives, livelihoods, and material property, but may also have the potential to escalate further. Recent studies on large-scale "headline" conflicts have tended to exclude the systematic consideration of local conflict, in large part due to the absence of representative data at low levels of geographic specification. This paper is a first attempt to correct for that. Barron, Kaiser, and Pradhan evaluate a unique dataset compiled by the Indonesian government, the periodic Village Potential Statistics (PODES), which seeks to map conflict across all of Indonesia's 69,000 villages/neighborhoods. The data confirm that conflict is prevalent beyond well-publicized "conflict regions," and that it can be observed across the archipelago. The data report largely violent conflict in 7.1 percent of Indonesia's lowest administrative tier (rural desa and urban kelurahan). Integrating examples from qualitative fieldwork, the authors assess issues in the measurement of local conflict for quantitative analysis, and adopt an empirical framework to examine potential associations with poverty, inequality, shocks, ethnic and religious diversity/inequality, and community-level associational and security arrangements. The quantitative analysis shows positive correlations between local conflict and unemployment, inequality, natural disasters, changes in sources of incomes, and clustering of ethnic groups within villages. The institutional variables indicate that the presence of places of worship is associated with less conflict, while the presence of religious groups and traditional culture (adat) institutions are associated with conflict. The authors conclude by suggesting future areas of research, notably on the role of group inequality and inference, and suggest ways to improve the measurement of conflict in the village census.
This paper - a product of the Public Sector Governance Division, Poverty Reduction and Economic Management Network - is part of a larger effort in the network to evaluate decentralized/local governance and service delivery.
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