Three essays on the Korean labor market

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Kim, Inkyung

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My dissertation consists of three essays on the Korean labor market. The first essay studies how the extensive provision of maternity leave and childcare leave in Korea affects the employment and wages of young women. This reform is expected to increase the labor supply and decrease the labor demand for young women. As a result, the mean wage of young women should fall. But the direction of the change in their employment probability is hard to infer because it depends on the relative magnitudes of the shifts of the labor supply and demand curves. A difference-in-difference-in-differences model having older women, older men, and young men simultaneously as the control group suggests that neither the employment nor the hourly wages of young women are affected.

The second essay explores why married men have higher hourly earnings and employment propensity than otherwise comparable single men. In a fixed effects regression, which controls for the selection of more productive men into marriage, married men do not experience faster growth in earnings and employment rate before marriage. Rather, when marriage takes place, the earnings of married men start increasing relative to those of single men. Also, that South Korean men have a greater earnings growth after marriage than U.S. men is consistent with the national difference in the degree of specialization within married households. Married men are more likely to work than single men only for the first few years of marriage, and single men outperform married men afterwards.

The final essay studies why gender differences in earnings and earnings growth exist among new Korean college graduates before women take time off of work for marriage and motherhood. I find that women do not face an initial earnings gap after graduating college compared to men who finished military service. The lower earnings that women receive can be entirely explained by the difference in age at graduation between men and women. However, women's earnings grow slower than those of men who finished military service. This is partly because a greater percentage of women graduate from colleges of education, which provide slower earnings growth than other types of colleges. Most of the gender difference in earnings growth remains unexplained.




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