Explaining the Recent Upturn in Divorce in Indonesia: Developmental Idealism and the Effect of Political Change

In: Asian Journal of Social Science
Tim Heaton Southwestern Law School and Brigham Young University

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Mark Cammack
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Divorce trends in Indonesia during the latter half of the 20th century provide an interesting contrast to Western societies. While the social forces associated with modernisation resulted in a dramatic rise in divorce in Western societies, the process of modernisation produced an equally dramatic decline in divorce in Indonesia. Recent evidence, however, suggests that the divorce trends have reversed direction in Indonesia, and the divorce rate has begun to rise. The purpose of this paper is to present both statistical evidence of a possible rise in divorce and qualitative evidence of possible changes in reasons for divorce. The statistical evidence is based on five rounds of the Indonesia Demographic and Health Surveys conducted between 1987 and 2007. Qualitative evidence comes from interviews with marriage registrars, court officials, and other informed community members.

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