Kunal Sen gives the 2024 annual Sadli Lecture—Broken Ladders? Labour Market Inequality in Indonesia and India

UNU-WIDER Director Kunal Sen gives the 18th Sadli Lecture on Broken Ladders? Labour Market Inequality in Indonesia and India as a part of the annual lecture series of the Australian National University (ANU) Indonesia Project. The event is hybrid, with attendance possible in-person in Depok, Indonesia at the Universitas Indonesia (in-person attendance register here). The event will be held in English with Indonesian language interpretation. Online registration here

This year’s lecture

As globalization and technological advancements reshape the contours of economies worldwide, understanding the nuances of labour market structures becomes paramount. In this year’s lecture, Professor Kunal Sen presents his research titled Broken Ladders? Labour Market Inequality in Indonesia and India. This lecture offers insights gleaned from a rigorous examination of the labour landscapes of these two nations. 

Abstract. We examine the nature of labour market inequality in Indonesia and India, using a common conceptual approach, drawing from the Job Ladder framework. In the framework, we differentiate between self-employment and wage-informal and between formal, upper tier informal and lower tier informal jobs. We find that both countries have a large proportion of workers in lower tier jobs, though the importance of wage-employment is larger in Indonesia. There are more workers in formal wage-employment in Indonesia than India. There are also sharp disparities in the earnings of workers in different tiers of the labour market in Indonesia and India, and there is limited evidence of convergence of the earnings of the lower tier informal workers to that of formal workers. We also find that gender, location and educational level are important correlates of work status in both countries. Female, urban and less educated workers occupy the lower tiers of the labour markets in the two countries.

About Professor Kunal Sen

Kunal Sen is Director of the United Nations University World Institute for Development Economics Research (UNU – WIDER) in Helsinki, Finland, since 2019. He is also professor of development economics at the University of Manchester (on leave) and Research Fellow at IZA Institute of Labour Economics (Germany). Professor Sen is a leading international expert on the political economy of growth and development. He has performed extensive research on international finance, the political economy determinants of inclusive growth, the dynamics of poverty, social exclusion, female labour force participation, and the informal sector in developing economies. His research has focused on India, East Asia, and sub-Saharan Africa. He received his PhD in economics from Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey (USA). His latest publications include The Job Ladder: Transforming Informal Work and Livelihoods in Developing Countries (and edited volume) and Varieties of Structural Transformation Patterns, Determinants, Consequences.

About the Sadli Lecture 

The annual Sadli Lecture is a collaboration between the Institute for Economic and Social Research (Universitas Indonesia) and the Indonesia Project (The Australian National University) in honour of Professor Mohammad Sadli and Professor Saparinah Sadli. The late Professor Mohammad Sadli was a leading Indonesian policy-maker and economist, and Professor Saparinah Sadli a leading academic in gender equality and advocate for human right and social justice. The series aims to broaden understanding of, and stimulate debate on international trade, industrial organization, development economics and macroeconomics, gender equality, and social inclusion.

Since 2007, the annual Lecture is based on a commissioned paper on Indonesia in comparative economic perspective for the Bulletin of Indonesian Economic Studies.

Program (Jakarta time, GMT+7)
09:00 – 09:30 Registration
09:30 Opening remarks by Associate Professor Chris Manning (ANU Indonesia Project)
09:40 Keynote remarks by Dr Teguh Dartanto (Dean, FEB UI)
09:55 Lecture: Broken Ladders? Labour Market Inequality in Indonesia and India by Professor Kunal Sen (UNU-WIDER)
10:40 Discussion by Dr Maria Monica Wihardja (ISEAS-Yusof Ishak Institute) and Dr I Dewa Gede Karma Wisana (Lembaga Demografi FEB UI)
11:10 Question & answer session
12:00 Close of event