Academic journal article The American Journal of Economics and Sociology

South Korean Labor Market Discrimination against Women - a Comment

Academic journal article The American Journal of Economics and Sociology

South Korean Labor Market Discrimination against Women - a Comment

Article excerpt

Monk-Turner and Turner raised in this Journal (53, 4, Oct. 1994:433-42) an issue on low labor participation rates by married and highly educated women in South Korea. They claimed that sex discrimination against them in South Korea have cost billions of dollars in gross domestic product. They concluded (440) that ". . . the combined effect on earnings for South Korean women attaining the same relative level of compensation and participation rates as United States women is 18,314 billion won ($27.3 billion)."

Their analysis is highly simplistic ignoring the complex social networks enjoyed by the society (men and women alike) for generations. Comparative analysis of women's labor participation between two different societies where dominant values and customs are deeply dissimilar is misleading. It is true that the women's labor participation rate in South Korea is lower. However, there is a good reason - a social opportunity cost - that many married and highly educated women prefer staying away from the labor market.

People in South Korea (men and women alike) value intangible contributions that married women are making to the family structure and to society. They believe, it does not matter whether such belief is based on Confucian tradition, as the authors seem to imply, or Christian teaching. Raising children properly by a traditional parent especially by mothers is the most valuable contribution that only a mother can make toward the family.

There is an abundance of literature pointing out that most of teens' social problems are rooted to the dysfunctional family structure. Simple statistics will illustrate the ills of social problems between South Korea and the United States. The U.S. divorce rate is more than four times higher.

Often teens' problems are related to crime rates. According to Table 2, the overall crime rate by teens in 1988 was 590 per 100,000 teens in South Korea whereas the corresponding information for this country was almost 3,000 per 100,000 teens. …

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