Changes in Early Labor Market Outcomes among Young College Graduates in South Korea

AuthorJaesung Choi,Hannah Bae
Published date01 March 2020
Date01 March 2020
ANNALS, AAPSS, 688, March 2020 115
DOI: 10.1177/0002716220906779
Changes in
Early Labor
among Young
Graduates in
South Korea
906779ANN The Annals of The American AcademyChanges in Early Labor Market Outcomes in South Korea
The unemployment rate among youths (age 20–29) in
South Korea has increased sharply from 6.6 percent in
2002 to 9.8 percent in 2016. At the same time, the col-
lege entrance rate remains around 70 percent, and skill
mismatch among college goers is a critical policy con-
cern. Little attention has been paid to temporal change
in labor market outcomes among college graduates or
to the kinds of graduates who are particularly vulnera-
ble to labor market uncertainty. We investigate how
labor market experiences for college graduates have
changed over time using data from nine different
graduating cohorts of the Graduate Occupational
Mobility Survey (GOMS). The results reveal that the
proportion of those searching for a job has increased
over time, and that even for those who were employed,
job quality deteriorated. We also find a growing gap in
labor market outcomes by reputation of graduating
universities and college major.
Keywords: college graduates; South Korea; labor
market outcome; college major; GOMS
The youth (age 20–29) unemployment rate
in South Korea has increased sharply, from
6.6 percent in 2000 to 9.8 percent in 2016. As
presented in Figure 1, the increase is especially
striking from 2011 to 2016 and depicts a dra-
matic contrast with the trend for the entire
population. Examining unemployment by edu-
cation level reveals that the greatest increase is
among young people with a college degree or
Jaesung Choi is an associate professor in the Department
of Global Economics at Sungkyunkwan University in
Seoul, Korea. His research interests are labor, education,
and program evaluation. His research focuses on evalu-
ating education and labor market policies in Korea.
Hannah Bae is a doctoral student in the Economics
Department at the University of California, San Diego.
Her fields of interest are labor economics and econom-
ics of education. She uses empirical analysis to
understand the labor market for youth and the elderly
in Korea.
greater education, in contrast to the pattern in the first decade after 2000, when
the unemployment rate was higher among those with a high school degree or less
education (Korean Statistical Information Service [KOSIS] 2017).
NOTE: This work was presented at the international conference “Labor Market Uncertainties
for Youth and Young Adults” at the Asia Research Institute, National University of Singapore,
November 9–10, 2017. This work was supported by the Laboratory Program for Korean
Studies through the Ministry of Education of Republic of Korea and Korean Studies Promotion
Service of the Academy of Korean Studies (AKS-2016-LAB-2250002).
Labor Market Statistics in Korea, 2000–2016

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