Published online by Cambridge University Press: 21 October 2015
LIFE OF OLDER PERSONS
It is a very hot day in an overly-crowded and polluted street in Jakarta. When the traffic light turns red, out of nowhere a group of people emerge and start approaching the cars and motorcycles, begging for money. This group includes some older men and women who have resorted to begging so as to make ends meet. In Singapore, another big city in Southeast Asia, older men and women do “odd jobs” such as cleaning dirty tables at hawker centres and public toilets. Is this the kind of employment older people are expected to take on in some parts of Southeast Asia?
In contrast, there are many older men and women in Indonesia who do not do “anything”. They live in beautiful houses; they travel a lot for leisure; and they have rich children to support them. One older man works for a family business run by his son; he enjoys the work, not because of the money, but because of the nature of the job and also because it keeps him occupied. He also partakes in the profit from this business. Moreover his wife enjoys her leisure; she pursues her time exercising, visiting friends, meeting her children, children-in-law, and grandchildren. A question arises regarding the kinds of activities one would expect older persons to engage in. We could also ask if an older person who engages in wage work is better off than someone who does not? In essence, what kind of life should older persons be leading?
This chapter represents a preliminary attempt to provide the first and important step at answering that question, by analysing the employment patterns of older women in Indonesia. It provides information on what the older persons, particularly older women, do within and outside the labour market. The analysis relies on a national data set collected in 2007. Therefore, readers need to be careful when generalizing the findings in this chapter beyond 2007.