In This Review

Growing Apart: Oil, Politics, and Economic Change in Indonesia and Nigeria
Growing Apart: Oil, Politics, and Economic Change in Indonesia and Nigeria
By Peter M. Lewis
University of Michigan Press, 2007, 360 pp.

Indonesia and Nigeria have a remarkable number of similarities. They are large, multiethnic, multilingual former European colonies. Both had diversified economies disproportionately dependent on oil exports for government revenue and roughly equal per capita incomes in 1970. Both have a Muslim majority with significant non-Muslim minorities. Both had vicious civil wars in the 1960s, followed by authoritarian military leaders and abundant corruption and cronyism, and both made shaky transitions to democracy in the late 1990s. Yet over the past four decades, they have had radically different economic outcomes. Nigeria has hardly grown at all in terms of output per capita and has had a rapid rise in population. Indonesia, in contrast, has experienced a threefold increase in output per capita and has had a significant but slowing rise in population. The consumer price level has risen by over 300 percent in Indonesia; in Nigeria it has risen by over ten times that. Why the striking difference in economic performance? Lewis analyzes in detail the different aims, styles, and motivations of each country's leaders (Suharto, who ruled for 30 years in Indonesia, a succession of generals in Nigeria, one of whom, Ibrahim Babadinga, ruled for eight years, and another, Olusegun Obasanjo, who ruled for nearly 12 years over two periods); the different roles of rent-seeking political elites and of technocratic officials (especially economists, who won Suharto's confidence early in Indonesia); and the different institutional legacies in each of these complex societies.