Inter-sectoral labour mobility in Korea: its origins and relationship with unemployment

Fiona Tan

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis

261 Downloads (Pure)


[Truncated abstract] The Asian Financial Crisis was a wake-up call to the South Korean economy that a change to its economic structure was needed. Prior to the Crisis, South Korea enjoyed healthy economic growth and low unemployment. With the onset of the Crisis, Korea experienced severe recession. Unemployment levels soared and turnover in the labour market became commonplace. The Korean government enacted a series of policies and succeeded in combating unemployment in the short-term. To the present time, unemployment levels have been lowered, albeit with job instability and insecurity. A more effective longer-term solution is needed to increase the resilience of this NIE. The role of inter-sector labour mobility as a policy tool to combat unemployment using the relevant determinants of mobility has not been explored in Korea (Asia), although it has been debated at length in the West since the 1980s. Part of the reason for this lies in the lack of longitudinal data to facilitate appropriate research. Recently, such data have been made available by the Korean Labour Institute (KLI). This thesis extends research into the labour mobility-unemployment relationship to South Korea. The priority is to establish whether a mobility-unemployment relationship exists in Korea, and to obtain a thorough understanding of the factors affecting sectoral mobility in this country in order to facilitate the crafting of potential tools for addressing the unemployment problem. The thesis is organised into two parts. ... The main finding is that whilst the monetary variables and worker/industry characteristics impact male and female mobility differently, sectoral unemployment and sectoral shock affect male and female mobility similarly. The thesis is summarised and some policy measures provided in the sypnosis. It is argued that the 'new' mobility-unemployment phenomenon appears to have emerged in Korea after the Crisis, whereas it had been a feature of Western economies in much earlier time periods. Traditional monetary and fiscal policies are inadequate when it comes to combating unemployment in the presence of this mobility-unemployment phenomenon. A combination of macro-policies, given the relevance of the ADH, and micro-policies, given the validity of the SSH, is required. The multi-dimensional nature of mobility implies that the micro policies to control or reduce mobility rates using the relevant variables (to alleviate unemployment) should cover measures related to monetary wages, labour market groups and sector performance. The sypnosis notes a dearth of Asian studies on sectoral mobility, possibly due to the lack of longitudinal data. The collection of quality longitudinal data for other Asian countries, so that research along the lines conducted in the thesis could be undertaken for other NIEs, was seen as being of vital importance. With such data, the standard of research on Asian economies can be at par with that of the Western countries, and the apparently considerable potential benefits of microeconomic policies via sectoral mobility for Asia could be realised.
Original languageEnglish
QualificationDoctor of Philosophy
Publication statusUnpublished - 2008


Dive into the research topics of 'Inter-sectoral labour mobility in Korea: its origins and relationship with unemployment'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this