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Labor Force Participation, Family Policy Change, and Second Birth Rates in South Korea
Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Sociology. (Demography)
(English)Manuscript (preprint) (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

In recent decades, while female labor force participation rates in South Korea have increased, the country's fertility rates have dramatically declined. It has been argued that the country’s family planning program, which was first implemented in 1962, initiated the fertility plunge. This study explores the association between women’s labor force participation and second birth rates in South Korea. It also examines how the South Korean family planning program (among other factors) contributed to this relationship. By applying an event history analysis to longitudinal data from the Korea Labor and Income Panel Study (KLIPS), the study shows that second birth rates declined continuously through the 1980s. The trend began to reverse in the late 1980s, although the reversal was only temporary, and second birth rates had shifted downward again by the turn of the new century. Women with employment experience after first birth had significantly lower second birth rates than homemakers, which suggests that labor force participation after first birth signals an interruption in a woman’s reproductive career. The adjustment of the family planning program in 1989 seems to have temporarily stimulated the second birth rates of homemakers in particular.

Keyword [en]
Female labor force participation, family planning program, second births, South Korea
National Category
Research subject
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-103156OAI: diva2:715979
Available from: 2014-05-07 Created: 2014-05-07 Last updated: 2014-05-26Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. Female Employment and Fertility Change in South Korea
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Female Employment and Fertility Change in South Korea
2014 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

A large amount of literature has addressed the relationship between women’s employment and fertility in the Western context. We have less relevant knowledge about the context of East Asia. This thesis addresses this situation by providing insight into how women’s employment is interrelated with their fertility in South Korea. I investigate women’s life-course transitions to motherhood, labor force return after childbearing, and second childbearing, respectively. Data used for my analyses come from the Korea Labor and Income Panel Study (KLIPS).

My studies show that the traditional practice of leaving the labor market at an early stage of family life has gradually been replaced by a pattern of staying at work until and during pregnancy. Among wage earners, women with stable employment positions are more likely than others to become a mother. Further, women with a good labor market standing are more likely to return to the labor force immediately after childbirth without any career interruption. Still, a considerable number of women shift to homemaking after childbirth. The outbreak of the Asian financial crisis in 1997 pushed mothers to hold tighter to the labor market than before. Labor force participation after first birth depresses women’s likelihood of having a second child.

These studies suggest that a good labor market standing facilitates both motherhood entry and job continuity after childbirth in South Korea. However, the considerable number of women that shift to homemaking during motherhood and the depressed second birth rates of mothers in the labor force reveal that Korean women still face hardships when trying to combine work and family responsibilities.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Stockholm: Acta Universitatis Stockholmiensis, 2014. 39 p.
Dissertation series / Stockholm University Demography Unit, ISSN 1404-2304 ; 11
Female employment, fertility change, South Korea
National Category
Research subject
Sociological Demography
urn:nbn:se:su:diva-103718 (URN)978-91-87235-88-7 (ISBN)978-91-87235-87-0 (ISBN)
Public defence
2014-08-29, Lecture hall 3, B House, Universitetsvägen 10 B, Stockholm, 13:00 (English)

At the time of the doctoral defense, the following papers were unpublished and had a status as follows: Paper 2: Manuscript. Paper 3: Manuscript.

Available from: 2014-06-04 Created: 2014-05-23 Last updated: 2016-05-27Bibliographically approved

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