Bali governor wants families to have 4 children so Nyomans and Ketuts don’t go extinct

Bali Governor Wayan Koster. Photo: Bali Provincial Government
Bali Governor Wayan Koster. Photo: Bali Provincial Government

Could there be a time when no one in Bali is named Nyoman or Ketut?

That is one concern Governor Wayan Koster seems to be taking seriously, as he has expressed his intention to launch a family planning program that would encourage parents to have four children instead of the national standard of two.

“If everyone has two children, that means Nyoman and Ketut can go extinct. We will lose this aspect of our tradition,” Koster said today.

In case you didn’t know, traditional Balinese families name their children according to their birth order. First borns boys are named Wayan, Putu, or Gede while girls are named Ni Luh; second borns are named Made, Kadek, or Nengah; third borns are named Nyoman or Komang; and fourth are named Ketut. The order repeats itself for subsequent children born, but with the “Balik” suffix added to their names (e.g. Wayan Balik).

“Now, look at the enrollment lists at elementary schools. How many Nyomans are there? How many Ketuts? They’re certainly rare,” the governor, who we can confidently say is the first born in his family, added.

But there’s more to Koster’s mind than preserving the birth order name tradition. According to National Statistics Agency (BPS) data, Bali has a population of 4.32 million as of 2020. The island’s fertility rate — the average number of children a woman would have over her childbearing years — in 2010 was 2.13, which is below the national figure of 2.41.

“For Bali, please don’t impose the two-child family planning rule. That would be detrimental to the people of Bali. We are not that many to begin with, so don’t shrink our population,” Koster said.


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