Women's Education and Social Mobility in South Korea

  • Kyung- A Kim

Student thesis: Phd


The aim of this thesis is to examine women's educational attainment and social mobility in contemporary South Korea. This study seeks to answer to the following key research questions: 1) how much parents' characteristics such as occupational status and educational attainment, are important to their children's education and class; 2) the roles of educational qualification to occupational attainment in contemporary South Korea; 3) whether South Korea has become a more equal society with improved mobility chances for people of different social origins; and, 4) if there is a general pattern of social mobility and social fluidity in South Korea, how it is related to the change in the occupational positions of women. This research uses the Korean Labour and Income Panel Study (KLIPS) from 1998 to look at the changing relationship between social origin, education, and destination and what it indicates the role of education in the social mobility in Korea. The following tools are used for the analysis: I adopt Goldthorpe's class schema and CASMIN scales of educational qualifications. I then separately look at the association for men and women separately. Various statistical methods are subsequently employed to explore the substantive research questions: I use descriptive analysis for changes of Korea's educational attainment and look at absolute rates of mobility. Disparity ratios and odds ratios are used for describing the relative patterns and chances of educational attainment and mobility and regression model are used for analysing the impact of a range of factors on educational attainment and class destination. Finally, I draw on log-linear and log-multiplicative analysis for the trends in relative mobility and social fluidity.I find that access to education is still influenced by social background. Although the disparities between men and women become narrower across cohort, class and gender differentials in general educational attainment still apply to South Korea. Regarding the relative mobility rates, the results from disparity ratios show that the social class and gender differentials in class mobility still exist and the results of odds ratios confirm that social origin has a significant effect on children's social class destination. Looking at the origin-education (OE) association, class differences are still considerable and the relationship between class origins and educational attainment remains. Turning to the association between educational attainment and occupational destination (ED), qualifications continue to play a critical role in entry into the labour market remains, but there is no evidence that the association between education and destination has strengthened over time. Looking at the direct association between origins and destination (OD), the evidence shows the continuing association of origins on destinations. Regression analysis shows that the origin class effects upon educational attainment and occupational destinations were not dramatically decreased, but there were significant changes for women but not for men. The findings from the log-linear and log-multiplicative analysis suggest that there is trendless fluctuation and a stronger link between education and destination for women than for men.
Date of Award1 Aug 2014
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • The University of Manchester
SupervisorDavid Cutts (Supervisor), Yaojun Li (Supervisor) & Anna Zimdars (Supervisor)


  • women, education, attainment, south korea, social mobility, social fluidity, social origin
  • regression, log-linear, class destination, class schema, log-multiplicative

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