Korea: poverty in a tiger country

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This chapter begins with a summary of the major findings from poverty studies of the past two decades, especially those marking the cut-off poverty line and the incidence of absolute and relative poverty by various measures. A wide variation in the estimated measures considered here is attributed to both the theoretical definitions of estimating poverty and problems in using statistical data. The authors attempt to deal with these problems separately, although they are often interrelated. Rapid economic growth during the past 30 yr in Korea has alleviated poverty to a great extent. Yet there remain many pockets of absolute and relative poverty in Korea, for which comprehensive policy measures need to be adopted. Such neglect represents a research and academic failure as much as the administrative and managerial failure of poverty alleviation efforts.

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... Issues of poverty in Korea have been largely ignored for the last few decades. Before the recession, absolute poverty was a major issue, but fast economic growth contributed significantly to eradicate the number of people suffering severe poverty in Korea (Choo et al. 1996). However, the economic downturn in 1997 shifted the landscape of poverty and caused the absolute poverty rate to reach around 9%. ...
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This article attempts to increase awareness and understanding of an adult’s perceived necessities in South Korea (hereafter, Korea) and addresses the need to adopt a consensual approach to current measurement methods in Korea. The research utilized an online survey of Korean adults aged between 20 and 69 years, across the nation of Korea. The results are used to draw up a list of indicators considered to be necessary for life in Korea such that, if people cannot afford several of the items on the list, it might be considered that they are living in relative poverty. As well as examining public perceptions across different social groups within Korea, public attitudes on the necessities of life from neighbouring countries such as Japan and Taiwan are compared to see whether there is a consensus on the basic necessities of life across East Asia. The implications for an East Asian poverty framework are considered.
This article presents a case study of income redistribution in South Korea. By analysing the most comprehensive household income survey (National Survey of Family Income and Expenditure), it identifies a growing sign of change regarding the extent to which social security is beginning to play an important role in reducing income inequality. Nonetheless, it argues that its impact is yet to be sizeable enough to make a significant difference and, still further, that social security is of little use in terms of mitigating increasing inequality of original incomes which comprise the largest part of gross income.
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