This study inquiries into the problem of poverty that has begun to rise to the surface behind the slick façade of Korea’s rapid economic growth, and analyzes the phenomenon in great detail.
In the 1960s, the Korean economy began to grow at an astonishing rate, hovering above 10 percent a year, while the gross national income (GNI) per capita jumped from USD 209 in 1962 to UD 713 in 1978, with significant improvements being made in the quality of life of ordinary Koreans. Nevertheless, rather than solving the problem of poverty affecting certain groups or classes of people, Korea’s explosive economic growth merely served to cover it up. At present, there is a significant lack of effective measures to help the poor of Korea, leaving the problem of poverty to emerge as a major policy issue for the Korean economy in the future.
The poverty line refers to the conceptual line we use to distinguish poor from non-poor individuals or households. While many standards can be used to define a poverty line, we equate it with the amount of calories an individual needs to take in on a daily basis in order to engage in and conduct the normal activities of daily life. In this study, we therefore estimate the amount of calories that each type of household member requires on a daily basis and also the minimum amount of income that each household needs to purchase goods other than food, on the basis of data on actual consumer behavior. Our analysis reveals that the proportion of poor citizens in the Korean population has decreased drastically since the 1960s thanks to Korea’s economic growth, dropping from 41 percent in 1965 to 23 percent in the 1970s. However, while the problem of poverty began to disappear in rural regions, the increasing income gap in urban regions has exasperated the poverty problem in these areas. While recent economic growth has reduced the number of the absolutely poor, the proportion of the relatively poor has been rising steadily.
In Korea, poverty is not as serious as in other developing countries, so that it does not threaten the day-to-day survival of the vast majority of Koreans. However, there are still numerous Koreans showing symptoms of malnutrition, and the members of many Korean households share a single room. Also, the heads of poor families in Korea have received little education, with the vast majority of poor Koreans being denied access to sufficient quality of life. Although economic growth appeared to present a final solution to the problem of poverty in the early years, over time, it has actually worsened the problem of relative poverty. Therefore, policymakers bear increased responsibility to find ways of addressing social inequality, and to consider the feasibility of income-redistribution policies. They also need to collect accurate statistics in order to make reliable and consistent policy decisions.
빈곤인구의 추계와 속성분석(Population poverty estimates and analysis)
[서울] : 한국개발연구원
|Journal Title; Vol./Issue||한국개발연구:vol. 1(no. 2)|
|Subject Country||South Korea(Asia and Pacific)|
|Subject||Economy < Macroeconomics
Social Development < Population
|Holding||KDI; KDI School|