Recipient of the ANU Indonesia Project Research Fellowship

Sarah Dong

The ANU Indonesia Project would like to congratulate Ms Sarah Dong who was recently selected as the recipient of the ANU Indonesia Project Research Fellowship for a period of two years.  The ANU Indonesia Project received a high number of excellent applications, and would like to thank all those that expressed interest in the position.

Hosted by the Tax and Transfer Policy Institute at Crawford School of Public Policy, Sarah will work on the following research activities over the next two years.

1. Marriage Law Reform in Indonesia

This project analyses the effect of the 1974 Marriage Law which regulates that the minimum age for a woman’s first marriage is 16, and analyses the long-term outcomes for women including education, fertility and employment status. This is a timely project as a revision of the 1974 Marriage Law on minimum age at marriage has been raised many times. The most recent petition to increase the minimum age for women from 16 to 18 was rejected by the constitutional court in 2015. Identifying the effect of the 1974 law on women will provide direct implications for the revision. This project will also shed important light on the working of and relationships among Indonesia’s legal systems, religious beliefs, cultural norms and family decisions.

2. Women and Work since the Asian Financial Crisis

This project will study the changes in women’s working status during the 1998 Asian Financial Crisis and the long-run consequences of these changes, including the interaction of the informal and formal work sectors and household decisions. One way Indonesians coped with the crisis was to increase women’s work, especially in the informal sector (Dong 2016). This project will first provide more rigorous evidence of the short-run effect of the crisis on women’s work and then identify the long-run effects. As women are disproportionally represented in the informal sector in Indonesia, this project will also provide insights into the dynamics of the informal sector and its role in mitigating economic shocks.

3. Indonesian Cash Transfer Program Keluarga Harapan (PKH), Gender Effects

PKH provides families that include pregnant women or children with regular cash transfers, subject to health service take-up and schooling conditions. The pilot program, which was introduced in 2007, had a randomisation design when choosing program regions. This project will conduct a medium-term evaluation of the pilot program, with the focus on gender effects, especially because the transfer is received directly by the mother. As Indonesia is expanding PKH at a fast pace, conducting a medium-term evaluation will provide important implications for program expansion and program design.

4. Tax Compliance and Improvement in Indonesia

The expansion of the Indonesian tax base to finance welfare and infrastructure development programs is a key policy goal. This project will explore a variety of methods to improve tax compliance, drawing on existing empirical methods being used by the researcher in a team at the Tax and Transfer Policy Institute in Australia, including randomised control trials through a partnership with the Australian Tax Office. Gender aspects of tax reform will also be studied.