In Data We Trust An Analysis Of Indonesian Socio-Economic Survey Data


December 2017

Authors: Meliyanni Johar, Prastuti Soewondo, Ardi Adji, Retno Pujisubekti, Harsa Kunthara Satrio, Iqbal Dawam Wibisono

What if a popular data set that has generated a long stream of literature has been misunderstood and has led to misleading inferences? In this paper, we use the case of household expenditure in the Indonesian National Socio-Economic Survey data, SUSENAS, which started over 50 years ago.

Appropriate use of SUSENAS for policy analysis requires an understanding that the expenditure variable in SUSENAS does not measure a household’s out-of-pocket expenditure, because it includes the approximated value of any subsidy received by the household in obtaining goods and services. Inferences about private expenditure and income, which are often derived from the expenditure variable, need to be carefully considered.

We also draw attention to an abrupt change in survey instrument in SUSENAS 2014 onwards that extends the reference period of several expenditure items. Using health items as a case study, we demonstrate that this change generates movement in health expenditure that can be misinterpreted as a result of a major national health insurance reform introduced in the same year to lower households’ health care burden. Accordingly, we propose a way to account for this synthetic movement in the health expenditure variable.



The TNP2K Working Paper Series disseminates the findings of work in progress to encourage discussion and exchange of ideas on poverty, social protection and development issues. Support to this publication is provided by the Australian Government through the MAHKOTA Program.

The findings, interpretations and conclusions herein are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Government of Indonesia or the Government of Australia.

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Suggested citation: Johar, M., Soewondo, P., Adji, A., Pujisubekti, R., Satrio, H.K., Wibisono, I.D.. 2017. In data we trust? An analysis of Indonesian socio-economic survey data. TNP2K Working Paper 2-2017. Jakarta, Indonesia.

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