Social engagement and the elderly in rural Indonesia

Ariane Utomo*, Peter Mcdonald, Iwu Utomo, Nur Cahyadi, Robert Sparrow

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

31 Citations (Scopus)


Rural areas in Indonesia are older relative to urban areas. This paper questions how levels of social engagement vary across among the elderly in rural Indonesia. A sample of 2750 respondents aged 60 and over was drawn from 10 purposely-selected relatively “old” villages. Our three measures of social engagement are: participation in income-generating activities, in communal activities, and in care work. While there are notable village-level differences in patterns of social engagement, the majority of our respondents are actively engaged in productive activities in their old age until they can no longer be so. A negative educational gradient in the likelihood of work participation suggests that needs for income security is a driver of the elderly's work participation. The notion of promoting active ageing, as typically understood in the Western and/or urban contexts, is of secondary importance to health care provision and managing old-age disability in these ageing rural communities.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)22-31
JournalSocial Science and Medicine
Early online date8 May 2018
Publication statusPublished - May 2019


  • Ageing
  • Demography
  • Indonesia
  • Rural
  • Social engagement


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