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Jakarta Post

Promise and peril of rapid rural-urban migration

  • Gregory Randolph

Jakarta   /   Sat, July 28 2018   /  01:22 am

Since colonial times, migration policy in Indonesia has sought to respond to Java’s overpopulation and Jakarta’s struggle to manage waves of rural migrants descending on the city in search of a better life. The transmigration program continued long after the Dutch left the Indonesian archipelago, and successive administrations in Jakarta have pursued restrictive migration policies seeking to discourage new migrants from coming. In 2016, Jakarta’s government even revived its Gerakan Kembali ke Desa (Return to Village Movement).

But recent migration data show that Jakarta’s leaders need a new scapegoat for the problems of poorly managed urban growth. Small cities — not Jakarta — are now on the front lines of the country’s migration, urbanization and employment challenges.

Today, a young person is more likely to be leaving than coming to a big city. Taken toget...