Many Elderlies are Still in Vulnerable Economic Situations

According to the August 2021 BPS National Labor Force Survey (Sakernas), 75.56 percent of the elderly work as vulnerable workers. Approximately, three out of every four elderly work with a high risk of economic vulnerability.

Mbah Kamisah
Mbah Kamisah (70) in Bantul brings firewood to sell. (ACTNews)

ACTNews, JAKARTA — Rumi (70) lives alone in an unsafe house in Citangan Village, Sukajaya Village, Jonggol District, Bogor Regency. When it rains heavily, the house floods, and wild animals frequently enter due to the numerous holes in the walls.

Rumi's home is made of bamboo and has a dirt floor. It does not have a toilet. Rumi's kitchen still has a wood-burning stove.

Due to financial constraints, she was unable to renovate her home. Rumi goes around the village every day selling banana chips that he makes himself. The daily profit from selling banana chips is IDR 60 thousand.

"The first half is for capital, and the second half is for my daily meals. My income is barely enough to meet my daily needs," Rumi stated at the end of April 2022.

Abah Utay (65) in Garut spends his old age with his son with a disability. Abah Utay hopes for the kindness of his neighbors and the assistance of the village government for his daily needs.

Abah Utay's health has deteriorated over the last eight months, and his legs are no longer capable of walking. Abah Utay did not seek medical attention because of his financial situation, and he did not have access to health insurance.

"Abah Utay uses a cane to move around, and sometimes his son carries him," said Jajang Sobandi of ACT Garut on Wednesday (5/25/2022).

Indonesian elderly workers' working conditions

The elderly are those aged 60 and up, according to Law Number 13 of 1998. According to the Central Statistics Agency (BPS), the number of elderly will reach 29.3 million in 2021, accounting for 10.82 percent of the total population. The number is predicted to increase every year to 19.9 percent of the total population by 2045.

According to the March 2021 BPS National Socio-Economic Survey results, most elderly (63.27 percent) had only an elementary school education or less. Around 13.15 percent of the elderly have never attended school. Meanwhile, 15.16 percent of the elderly have a high school diploma or higher. The elderly have a low level of education for a reason. Education was not previously prioritized, and limited access to education.

Mbah Inoh (78), of Gunungsari Village, Sukaratu District, Tasikmalaya Regency, sells snacks to supplement her income. (ACTNews)

The level of education has an impact because it is one of the indicators of a person's quality of life. It is following the classification issued by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) on welfare. Education has a significant impact on a person's level of well-being. People with higher education have a better chance of landing a good job with a good salary.

Based on BPS Susenas August 2021 data, stated that the elderly's level of education influences the type of work involved.

The informal sector employs most elderly workers, accounting for up to 86.02 percent of all elderly workers in 2021. The lower the percentage of the elderly, who work in the informal sector, the higher their education level.

"This occurs because working in the informal sector does not require specific educational qualifications and skills, making it more suitable for the elderly," the BPS reported.

Average Monthly Earnings of the Elderly Working by Region and Education Level (August 2021, BPS, Sakernas)

The number of elderly working in the informal sector is directly proportional to the number of elderly workers who are vulnerable. As vulnerable workers, the elderly face a high risk of economic vulnerability and a decent work deficit, namely a lack of sufficient job opportunities and inadequate social protection. Because it is difficult for vulnerable workers to find decent work, their participation in the labor market jeopardizes their well-being.

"Sakernas recorded 75.56 percent of the elderly working as vulnerable workers in August 2021. It means that approximately three out of every four elderly people work with a high risk of economic vulnerability," BPS wrote.

Productive people earn more than unproductive one. The elderly's living needs are similar to those of productive age, but their healthcare cost is higher.

In 2021, the average monthly income of the working elderly will be IDR 1.34 million. The elderly in the agricultural sector has the lowest monthly salary compared to others, at IDR 1.002.000. According to Sakernas August 2021 data, the higher the education level of the elderly, the higher the average income. []