Poverty and Inequality of Korean Elderly People: Life Long Effects of Labor and Welfare Systems on Old Age Income Support

Thursday, July 17, 2014: 4:00 PM
Room: 503
Oral Presentation
Keong-Suk PARK , Seoul National University, South Korea, Seoul, South Korea
Very low fertility is regarded as a serious social concern in South Korea. Korean government has contrived diverse policy approaches to provide various incentives for reproductive behaviors. More or less, the public response to low fertility tends to be based on the individualistic framework of rational choice and assumes that reducing the constraint and cost for reproduction would increase fertility rate. In this regard, the new government of president Park Keun-Hye pledged to provide financial support for child birth and education more extensive than ever before. Setting aside the question whether the promise could be fulfilled given the limited budget, there are concerns as to whether the incentive approach for the individual rational choice would achieve its intended policy outcome without proper checks to the endlessly rising cost of reproduction.

Instead of the individual rational choice, this paper proposes a structural and historical perspective on the demographic transition and proper policy and practices. In this regard, this paper examines the origins and development of the family planning, which was established as the primary national policy of economic development through the 1960s and the early 1990s, and discusses its implication on social change and the subsequent fertility decline in South Korea.

Fertility declines has proceeded in complex rationalities on which people felt responsible for their own destiny and family, such as the Malthusian ethical check. But also the strong desire for material well being and preferred children’s success contributed to the strict birth control and ignorance for unwanted births.