Audio and transcript from the Southeast Asia Program seminar, "Does Decentralization Lessen or Worsen Poverty? Evidence from Post-‘Big Bang’ Indonesia," with Sudarno Sumarto on Dec. 12, 2013.
Under what conditions is decentralization most likely to foster development and reduce poverty? Plausible answers include: a sufficiently committed central government; local checks against corruption; and sufficiently resourced actors able to deliver public services effectively. Indonesia is a good place to explore the explanatory power of these and other propositions, thanks to the country’s diverse local conditions and the rapid and sweeping (“Big Bang”) decentralization that it underwent in the late 1990s. In his disaggregation of the Indonesian case since then, Sudarno Sumarto examined whether, how, and why poverty alleviation has been helped or hurt by particular economic, social, and political variations in the context and character of local governments across the archipelago.