Friday, March 23, 2007

Jakarta as Indonesia's Primate City

Primate city is a major city that plays dominant role in many respects in a country. It becomes a high concentration of urban population and plays as political, economical, cultural and transportation center of a nation. In term of population, a primate city is at least twice as populous as the second largest city in the nation. For some scholars, the population of primate city is larger than a combined population of the second, third and fourth largest cities of a nation.

Is Jakarta the primate city of Indonesia? The answer is very clear. Jakarta is indeed the primate city of Indonesia. Jakarta and its peripheral areas are more than twice as populous as Bandung -the second largest city in Indonesia. The Metropolitan Jakarta's population in 2005 was 14.0 million and it is 3.4 times of Bandung's population (4.1 million). The combined population of Bandung, Surabaya and Medan -the second, third and fourth populous cities in Indonesia respectively- was 9.4 million and it was still less than Jakarta's population.

Under the Dutch colonialism, Jakarta was the center of commercial and transportation hub of the nation for three centuries. The concentrated urban activities in Jakarta had allowed the Dutch colonialist to efficiently collect the resources from across the nation or redistribute goods and services to other parts of the nation. The concentrated urban activities in Jakarta created accumulation of wealth in Jakarta and it was not a problem for the Dutch colonialist. Regional imbalance between Jakarta and other parts of the nation did not really matter for the Dutch colonialist.

The Jakarta's dominance in the Indonesia's urban system has not changed much in post-colonialism era. Data of urban population in Indonesia since 1950 as reported by the United Nations World Population Prospect (1996) reveals that the domination of Jakarta over other cities in Indonesia has been increasing since the 1950s. The highly concentrated urban activities in Jakarta indicates that the Government of Indonesia has underinvested in interregional transport and telecommunications which favors producer and investors in Jakarta over other parts of the nation. More over, Henderson (2003) asserted that favoritism involved restrictions in capital and export/import markets, all favoring firms that locate in Jakarta. This allowed the central bureaucrats and politicians not to compete with lower ranked bureaucrats from other parts of the nation for extracting rents in the allocation of loans and licences.

Regional imbalance does matter in the post-colonialist era in Indonesia. A variety of policies have been implemented to boost the development in other parts of the nation particularly the Eastern Indonesia. Even, there has been a ministry that is assigned to accelarete the development in the Eastern Indonesia. It is really hard task to do since Jakarta is still dominant in Indonesia's urban system.

The urban population data seems to indicate Bandung as a competitor for Jakarta. During periods of 1980-1985 and 2000-2005, the growth of Bandung's population surpassed the growth of Jakarta's population. Nonetheless, it is important to note that Bandung is only 160 kilometers away from Jakarta and it is like "weekend bedroom" for Jakarta residents. The highways connecting Jakarta and Bandung allow Bandung residents to commute to Jakarta. In the long term, it is not impossible that Bandung and Jakarta will be merged into one metropolitan.

More interestingly, the implementation of regional autonomy law in 1999 has not taken much effect in the urban population distribution. The regional autonomy law which is also to stimulate more growth in local level apparently could not redistribute growth from Jakarta to other parts of the nation.

Using data of many countries, Henderson (2003) found that the degree of urban concentration rather than urbanization contributes to economic growth. He asserted that over concentration will be very costly to economic growth of the country. In order to avoid the decline of economic growth due to high degree of urban concentration, the increasing dominance of Jakarta over other cities in Indonesia should be reduced. There must be other urban agglomerations in Indonesia that compete with Jakarta and reduce the degree of urban concentration in Indonesia. It will eventually create regional balance and more sustainable development in Indonesia.

  1. The United Nations. (2006). The United Nations World Population Prospects
  2. Henderson, Vernon. (2003). The urbanization process and economic growth: The so-what question. Journal of Economic Growth 8:47-71
(This post was cited in a book titled Focus on Gamelan Music of Indonesia by Henry Spiller)


Eko BK said...

Pak Deden, perhaps you should look at your data about the system of cities in Indonesia during the age of Netherlands Indies. Most of that time Batavia (Jakarta) was only the second largest city after Surabaya. The rapid growth of Jakarta urbanization process occured after Indonesia's independence day especially during Orde Baru up to now. The regional imbalance in the Netherlands Indies indeed matters for the Dutch government which taken the program of colonization (out migration from Java) as an appropriate measure.


Catuy said...

it will be very interesting, if we added the regional income of jakarta comparing to other city.. that's may re-defining the concept of primacy based on population.
urbanization was an effect from economic development that happen in one country. adam smith has identify this phenomenom years ago.
we can see urbanization from two aspect; indication of growth and regional imbalance that leads to many problem like slum, transportation etc.
what indonesia needs is another centre development. maybe in east region...

Deden Rukmana said...

Eko and Catur: Firstly, I thank you for commenting on the post. Such a way will allow this blog to be a venue for the exchange and development of ideas. Critiques of academic blog assert that a self-published venue such as blogsphere spawns more risky ideas that could be offered and debated. Lack of editors and referees are some other reasons of why blogsphere is not the right venue for developing the scholarship.
Regarding this debate, I fully agree with Randall Crane as he put in his blog and your comments have convinced me more where I should stand on the debate.
Back to Eko's comment, I would appreciate if you could provide us (the readers and me) the population data of Batavia and Surabaya before 1950. It would be very interesting topic - a discussion of how Surabaya could be the largest city in Indonesia during the Dutch colonialism. However, please note that the number of Metropolitan Jakarta's population in 1950 was 1,5 million or nearly 900 thousand people more than Surabaya's population in the same year.
Concerning Catur's comment, the index of urban primacy has been always associated with the urban population or the concentration of urban population . I agree with you that regional income (or I would put here Gross Regional Domestic Product/GRDP) would be an interesting view of point to assess the dominance of Jakarta in the Indonesia's urban system.
As indicated by Henderson (2003)the degree of urban concentration relates to economic development or economic growth. Does the increasing degree of urban concentration in Jakarta also correspond with the increasing degree of economic growth concentration in Jakarta? It would be a very interesting topic to discuss in order to give more comprehensive assesment of Jakarta's dominance in the Indonesia's urban system

Eko said...

I must read it somewhere recently that Batavia population just exceeded Surabaya in about 1910s if I'm not mistaken (that's why I wrote "most of the time"... but you are right even in 1930 Batavia population has already passed Surabaya's by about 200 thousands inhabitant..
I suggest you to read Werner Rutz "Cities and Towns in Indonesia", I think the best ever report on Indonesia's system of cities dated from Hindu period to 1980s. Surely you can find it easily in the US..

Eko said...

One more thing...economists have long time been confident that external/ agglomeration economy is a source of such a mega urban growth as it happens in Southeast Asian metropolitans... however, some scholars, mainly geographers, identify that political power has things to do with it by extracting many natural resources from regions to the nation capital for instance...

Delik Hudalah said...

Dear Pak Deden, let me translate my previous comment in English. For me, it is not yet clear the unit of analysis of your data (World Bank, 2006), whether its is "metropolitan" or "city". It should be consistent because it is not fair to compare Jakarta as "metropolitan" region with Bandung, Surabaya, etc as "cities". Jakarta as a "city" has population not more than 10 millions -- instead of 14 millions (National Data & West Java in Figure, 2003). Meanwhile, Bandung as "metropolitan" (combined with Bandung District and parts of Sumedang District) has more than 7 millions inhabitants -- instead of 4 millions(West Java in Figures, 2003). The outcomes are similar to other cities included in your analysis. If this is the case, hasn't the primacy index decreased -- instead of increased?

Harsh said...

Nice Post, keeping on updating,

Anonymous said...

When discussing Jakarta in terms of population you must consider that Jakarta is really a special province, DKI Jakarta, consisting of four cities. Surrounding DKI Jakarta 3 major cities within the province of West Java, Kota's Bekasi, Depok and Tangerang. Each of which has a residential population of approx. 2 million. The residential population of DKI Jkt is around 9 to 10 million but this is swelled each working day from workers entering from the surrounding cities.