This study examined the scope and trends of the middle class in Korea, in order to present policy direction to foster the middle class in the country.
The definition of middle class varies, but in general, based on the job category that divides the old and new middle class, it is estimated that middle class accounts for around 30 to 40 percent of the total population, and around 50 to 60 percent of independent farmers who cultivate their own lands are included in that figure. Income level, educational background, and housing can also be used as categorization standards.
After independence from Japanese colonial rule, Korea underwent a series of social upheavals along with severe class movements. As a result, there had been no firmly established social stratum in Korea. Social conflicts have intensified as income and wealth were disproportionately distributed under the authoritarian regime during the rapid economic growth period. These changes led to the increased importance of the middle class in society, as they account for the majority of the society and can lead positive social advancement with clear ideas on social issues and moderate political views and actions.
This illustrates the importance of devising measures to foster the middle class for social stabilization. To this end, the government should make efforts to fairly distribute wealth by lowering the percentage of direct taxes, reforming the tax scheme, and by improving social welfare programs and the minimum wage system.
As for education systems, which have shown correlation with the formation of the middle class, there should be a reform of the system to equip it with advanced vocational training. In addition, relative poverty should be resolved, which will help the lower class enter the middle class, through measures to help workers to accumulate wealth and to improve SMEs (small- and medium-sized enterprises) policies, and agricultural policies.
산층 실태분석과 정책과제(A study on the status of the middle class and the policy recommendations)
|Subject Country||South Korea(Asia and Pacific)|
|Subject||Economy < Economic Conditions|
|Holding||KDI; KDI School|