Essays on decentralisation, public services and well-being in Indonesia

  • Sujarwoto Sujarwoto

Student thesis: Phd


Decentralisation has been viewed as one means for promoting citizen well-being by bringing public goods and services closer to local needs. Yet empirical evidence across developing countries shows mixed results. This study aims to examine the association between decentralisation, public services and well-being in decentralised Indonesia. It argues that decentralisation enhances citizen well-being through improved local government capacity better able to deliver public goods and services. With lack of local government capacity and accountability, decentralisation decreases well-being. This study contributes to existing research on decentralisation and well-being in three ways. First, while most studies discuss decentralisation and well-being in a cross-country context, this examines the relationship in a cross-local government context, and specifically within a developing country. Second, while most decentralisation studies focus on objective measures of well-being, this study uses both a subjective measure (i.e. happiness and citizen satisfaction with public services) and an objective measure (i.e. child health and healthcare demand). Third, while most studies use either aggregate or individual analyses to examine the effect of decentralisation on well-being, this study uses multilevel analysis to examine the effect of local government determinants on individual well-being.This study uses unique datasets which combine individual and household level data and local government data. Individual and household level data is taken from the Governance and Decentralisation Survey (GDS) 2006, the Indonesian Family Life Survey (IFLS) 2007, and the Indonesia socio-economic survey (Susenas) 2009. Local government level data comes from the national village census (Podes) 2006-2008, the national election database 2004-2007, the national health database 2009, local development budget and expenditure information 2004-2008, and the consumer prices indices 2004-2009. The main findings show that well-being among Indonesians varies across local governments, and that disparities in both public services and well-being appear between more developed and less developed regions. Well-being is not only associated with individual and household determinants, but also with local government determinants. The results are consistent, namely, that variation in well-being is associated with the capacity of local governments to deliver public goods and services. Citizens report being happier and more satisfied when local governments are able to provide better public goods and services for them (i.e. able to spend more of their budget on providing public services). In contrast, well-being decreases in the face of local corruption and of weak capacity to govern. These findings suggest that improving local government capacity to provide effective policies and good public services is vital to improve citizen well-being in decentralised Indonesia.
Date of Award1 Aug 2013
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • The University of Manchester
SupervisorGindo Tampubolon (Supervisor) & Ronald Ramlogan (Supervisor)


  • Decentralisation, public services, well-being, Indonesia

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