Yogyakarta Poorest yet Happiest Province in Java: Explained

25 January 2023 23:34 WIB

TEMPO.CO, Jakarta - The Special Region of Yogyakarta is officially registered as the poorest province on Java Island. Citing the records kept by Statistics Indonesia (BPS) as of September 2022, Yogyakarta logged an 11.49 percent poverty rate which is above the national average of 9.57 percent. 

In September 2022, the average poor household in Yogyakarta had 4.20 household members and when viewed on a household basis, the poverty line is set at Rp2,315,636.00 per household per month.

On the other hand, in 2023 the Yogyakarta provincial minimum wage (UMP) will increase by 7.65 percent to Rp1,981,782 compared to the 2022 UMP of Rp1,840,915. An increase that is the second lowest in comparison to the minimum wage growths of other provinces. 

Social Inequality in Yogyakarta is Considered the Highest

The survey results from Statistics Indonesia as of September 2022 also show that the gap - based on the Gini ratio - between the rich and the poor in Yogyakarta is widening to 0.459.

According to BPS, the number of poor people in Yogyakarta in September 2022 was 463,630, an increase of around 8,900 compared to March 2022.

Even though the percentage is smaller, the largest pockets of poverty are detected in urban areas, reaching 321,070 people (10.64 percent). Rural poverty reached 142,570 people with a percentage of 14 percent.

The poverty line in Yogyakarta in September 2022 was recorded with a per capita income of Rp551,342 per month. The composition of the food poverty line is Rp398,363 (72.25 percent) and the non-food poverty line is Rp152,979 (27.75 percent).

What Drives the Inequality? 

The economist from the Center of Economic and Law Studies (Celios) Bhima Yudhistira Adhinegara said that the high social inequality in Yogyakarta is the city’s unofficial status as a “city for students” due to the number of universities.

"This means that there are many newcomers, so there is a fairly wide gap. What's more, now that many universities are charging higher rates, the portion of scholarships for people who can't afford universities is also not too large," Bhima told Tempo, Sunday, January 22.

He argued that the newcomers have more stable economic conditions than the average Yogyakarta resident, most of whom work in the agricultural sector.

Why the People of Yogyakarta Are Happy

The same economist argues that Yogyakarta residents’ “nrimo” culture - which can be roughly translated to the trait of openly accepting any situation. 

"Why is the inequality high, the poverty is also (high), but on the other hand how come life expectancy and happiness are also good? Well, that's because of the local culture which is called nrimo, nrimo ing pandum, which means the trait of tending to accept anything," Bhima wrote in a statement to Tempo, Sunday, January 22. 

Bima said this culture actually tends to be permissive towards poverty. This is because this culture believes that poverty is part of the act of God.

However, from an economic point of view, this can be considered mistaken as there should be a correlation between happiness and success.

"What is an example? The happiest countries in the world are Scandinavian countries where the economy is good, the level of equity is yes (good), and in terms of income per capita, they are classified as developed countries. Their level of happiness is also high," he explained.

UJI SUKMA MEDIANTI

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