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∙ Current position: Academy of Finland Postdoctoral Researcher, Social and Cultural Anthropology, University of Helsinki
∙ Ph.D. dissertation Neighborhood Shopkeepers in Contemporary South Korea: Household, Work, and Locality available online (E-Thesis publications a the University of Helsinki). For printed copies, please contact me by e-mail.
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Tuesday, May 04, 2004

Wage differentials and other bits of data

Went to the Weekly Mal homepage after a long time. It reports of a research result done by the Korea Labor and Society Institute, according to which the income differences in South Korea are the biggest in the OECD. Based on hourly wages, the salary income of the top 10% tier was 5.6 times higher than that of the bottom 10% tier. The difference has gotten bigger in the last few years: 2000 4.9, 2001 5.2, 2002 5.5, and 2003 5.6. The same figure is 4.3 in the United States.
Also the differences between men and women, and between permanently employed and temporarily employed are big. If men's wage level is 100, women's is 62, and that of permanently employed 100, temporarily employed are at 49.
The research shows as well that the Korean labor markets are actually more flexible and elastic than is normally thought, more than in the US. (I won't start quoting the figures 'cos I don't understand them well.)
- Employment in manufacturing industries has diminished from 27.8% in 1989 to 19% in 2003
- Employment in big companies has diminished; of the work force, 17% were in places with more than 500 employees in 1993, but only 8.7% in 2002. The employment in establishment with less than 100 employees has increased from 69% to 78%.

This means that fewer and fewer employees are in better-paying big company jobs, and more and more are in poorly salaried small companies, as the differentials in wages and other benefits between big and small companies are considerable. And the big companies have increased their subcontracting; the permanent employees left in the big companies have been able to defend their interests, while the temporarily employed and those in the small companies haven't.

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