Indonesia Under the New Normal: Challenges and the Way Ahead

Robert Sparrow*, Teguh Dartanto, Renate Hartwig

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

87 Citations (Scopus)


As the Covid-19 crisis deepened in 2020, President Joko Widodo announced that Indonesia should prepare for the ‘new normal’. But when social distancing restrictions were relaxed in June to encourage economic recovery, the virus was not yet contained in Indonesia. Since then, the rate of infection has been rising faster than in many neighbouring countries. The pandemic has hit the economy hard, with a 5.3% reduction in GDP in the second quarter, the worst economic slump since 1998. In this Survey, we look at how Indonesia is preparing for the new normal. We argue that the government is focused on short-term recovery and does not have a clear strategy to address the medium-and longer-term implications of Covid-19. The response to the virus relies on public compliance to public health measures. There is a clear lack of emphasis on reducing the rate of infection through effective testing and tracing and enforcing social distancing and mobility restrictions. The government has developed an economic recovery plan that concentrates on cushioning the short-term impact of the crisis and supporting the poor and near-poor, rather than reducing long-term poverty and preventing structural changes in unemployment. Finally, we find that the pandemic is undermining the long-term financial sustainability of Indonesia’s social health insurance system. The education sector is reasonably prepared for extended school closures and distance learning. Yet there is no strategy to address the accumulated learning losses resulting from this crisis.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)269-299
Number of pages31
JournalBulletin of Indonesian Economic Studies
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2020


  • Covid-19
  • economic growth
  • education
  • fiscal policy
  • health
  • Indonesia
  • poverty


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