19 October 2023

Kata Kunci
older rural women entrepreneurs in Central Java


Laporan Penelitian

Ni Wayan Suriastini (SurveyMETER), Eva AJ Sabdono (Yayasan Emong Lansia), Fita Herawati (SurveyMETER), Ernis Asanti (SurveyMETER), Titis Putri Ambarwati (SurveyMETER)

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Examining decent work in Indonesia: Experiences of older rural women entrepreneurs in Central Java

Executive summary

Indonesia’s a trend of population ageing has been accompanied by an increase of older people who, despite various challenges, continue to be productive and contribute to the economy. However, evidence regarding decent work in Indonesia is limited and particularly lacking when it comes to informal work in rural areas. There is a need for up-to-date evidence identifying the challenges related to decent work and risk factors that are barriers to decent work. Research of this kind can support the development of improved policies and programmes. This research focuses specifically on rural women entrepreneurs in Central Java, in particular their quality of work, motivation to develop their businesses and what key challenges they are facing.

To fulfil the study objectives, a mixed methods research approach was applied. For the quantitative study, 100 older women entrepreneurs from 10 villages of two sub-districts in Purworejo, Central Java, Indonesia were interviewed. Individual interviews were conducted with another 10 older women entrepreneurs from those villages (one person for each village) as part of a qualitative study. In addition, focus group discussions with 11 older women entrepreneurs were conducted in two villages from the same sub-districts which were not part of the quantitative and in-depth interviews. Data was analysed using descriptive statistics and a series of logistic regressions. Qualitative data was used to complement the analysis.

The research findings show that the most common reason given by the study participants for continuing to work is the motivation to be economically independent. Their choice of specific business is related to the skills involved. Most older women entrepreneurs in rural areas were found to be working in the trading sectors, especially running grocery stores and selling vegetables, fruits, or meats (retail traders). Most were running the business inside their house, working excessive hours (>40 hours) and earning low incomes (≤IDR 1.500.000 per month or ≤ USD 100). Most reported using their savings to start a business and not taking loans during the past 12 months because they fear not being able to repay it. Economic aspects (limited market demand, competition, high cost of materials, operational costs) as well as barriers related to operating the business (many in-debt customers and declining health and physical condition) were also found to be common barriers to running a business.

Compared to the oldest-old women (70 years or older), the youngest-old women (60 to 69 years) were found to be more likely to take risks while running their business and thus be more exposed to poor conditions that could affect their health. Across both age groups of older women, a higher educational level was found to be positively associated with decent work hours and higher income. Support from the closest people was also found to positively affect decent work for older women entrepreneurs in rural areas. There was a greater likelihood of having higher income associated with living with more household members; using roads that are safe and in good condition; and having a healthy environment for their enterprise. Finally, business sectors and location were also found to be significant factors associated with some aspects of decent work such as not working excessive hours; low risk of respiratory problems linked to the use of a firewood stove; not having physically burdensome business activities; using protective equipment; and having savings.

For complete details, visit and download the study report via the following HelpAge International website: