Employment Absorption in South Korea: 1970-1980

Paul W. Kuznets


Using data based on census materials concerning developments during the decade 1970-1980, the paper outlines the rapid economic growth in South Korea and how this has affected employment. It examines changes in the structure of employment, output growth in each sector and the relationships between output growth and employment. It also evaluates the unusual concentration of nonagricultural activity in Korea’s cities and its implications for urbanization and migration by comparing Korean experience with that of Taiwan. Issues associated with the turning point, which could have occurred around 1969 and 1965, are also discussed. After Korea’s world-record development in the 1970s, the paper notes a dramatic reversal in 1980 and a slow recovery in 1981-82 with no return to rapid growth until 1983. Finally, the paper discusses the effects of the recent recession and recovery on employment absorption and prospects for the future.

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