South Sulawesi youth respond to changing agrarian landscape

Young people account for 25% of South Sulawesi’s population, including in rural areas that are experiencing major agrarian change.


As the landscape around them changes, so do their opportunities – rural youth unemployment is as high as 10% in the province.

PAIR researchers are investigating the needs and aspirations of young people to identify barriers to realising their needs and aspirations.

Key findings


  • There are more young men than women involved in the fisheries and food crop sectors.
  • There are more women than men in wholesale and retail, education, health and hospitality sectors.
  • These trends may reflect vocational training and dominant gender roles.

Population and location

  • Overall, more young women than men have moved to Makassar over the last decade, with some regional variability. This may correlate with trends in youth employment.
  • There are higher levels of poverty in the hinterland areas of remote inland forested regions.
  • There is a greater proportion of youth in Makassar compared with Maros and other hinterland areas. There has been an overall decline in young people in Maros in recent years.

Law and policy

  • The Law on Youth 40/2009 outlines a national agenda for youth development.
  • The recently approved ‘Omnibus’ Jobs Creation Bill (UU Cipta Kerja) may create wage labour opportunities in the province by accelerating investment and contributing to youth movements from farming and other sectors.
  • Village law (UU Desa 6/2014) provides up to 1 billion rupiah per village to finance operations and development, aimed at retaining rural youth.

Media representations of youth

  • The media warns of a looming crisis of Indonesia’s ageing farming population, which has prompted a range of strategies to encourage young people to become farmers. Yet these strategies are inconsistent, ranging from sub-national loans, non-government training and small loans.
  • Youth are more likely to adapt to modern technologies compared to the older generations. A typical narrative depicts a university graduate who adopts farming and pursues a non-traditional approach to agriculture.
  • Youth are also portrayed as ethical entrepreneurs. This type of story shows young people (usually male) with skills and education becoming entrepreneurs or brokers, buying crops from farmers at a higher price than middle men.


Young people are crucial to development, and it is important that young people are provided with opportunities to help them reach their aspirations.

Researchers will continue to explore the livelihood needs, aspirations and opportunities for young people in South Sulawesi, to provide recommendations to governments and organisations on how to better support them.

Further research will investigate:

  • Changing landscapes across rural, coastal and peri-urban areas and their impact on youth
  • Food production, food security and labour conditions
  • Aspirations and mobility of young people, including the impact of remittances
  • Poverty and social disadvantage
  • Youth education and employment, and identification of specific skills and training needs for young men and women

This research will be carried out between 2021-2022.

The research team

PAIR domain: Young people and development

The research team will discuss their findings at the PAIR Virtual Summit Day 3 (1 December 2020)

Register for “Supporting the development and aspirations of South Sulawesi’s youth” here