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Korea

Women's Labor Force Participation

One of the biggest changes from the past is the increasing number of women in the work force. Dual-income families, in which both partners work either in full time or part time, now represent 60 percent of families in Korea (KNSO 1997). Since 1987, the number of married women who were employed outside the home has exceeded the number of employed unmarried women.

These figures do not reflect the complete picture. Although most working women take jobs out of economic necessity (Korean Women's Development Center 2000; KNSO 2000), their contributions are not valued because men still play authoritarian roles in the family. In addition, the greatest cause of stress for employed women is society's expectation that they have complete responsibility for the raising of children. Women experience conflict about their dual roles and also feel overload of roles (Chung 1997; Ha and Kim 1996; Kim and Kim 1994; Ko 1994). The double standard continues in Korean society. Although Korean husbands prefer working wives (Chungang Daily, March 15, 1989), 26 percent of women office workers are forced to resign their jobs upon marriage (Choson Daily, January 9, 1991). Although many young husbands want working wives because they contribute to the family's finances, these same husbands still regard their wives' work as part-time. Although women's labor force participation rates are increasing, the reality is that most of housework and the rearing of children are left to women in Korean households (Chung 1997; Kim 1999).


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Additional topics

Marriage and Family EncyclopediaMarriage: Cultural AspectsKorea - Traditional Korean Families, Contemporary Korean Families, Women's Labor Force Participation, Conclusion