Socioeconomic Differentials in Fertility in Korea: Period and Cohort Analysis

Yoon-Jeong Shin , Korea Institute for Health and Social Affairs

Korea’s period total fertility rate has been less than 1.3 children per woman for nearly 20 years. This study analyzes the fertility rate by socioeconomic group and identifies which group is the primary driver in the recent drop in fertility rates. Data from the Population Census and Vital Statistics of Korea were used to examine period and cohort total fertility rates by level of education, employment status and occupation. Results of the analysis are similar to those in previous studies, showing that highly-educated women exhibit lower fertility rates than women with lower levels of education on aggregate. However, recently women with less education tend to have smaller numbers of children than women with more. When women with the same level of education were sorted by occupation, the analysis reveals that women with jobs of comparatively low occupational status, such as service and sales workers, exhibited lower fertility rates than professional women. The result of a decomposition analysis demonstrated that recent changes in total fertility rates for both period and cohort could be attributed to the changes in the fertility rate rather than the changes in the population composition. The group that most contributed to the decline in the total fertility rate was found to be women with lower levels educational attainment or occupational status. It indicates that income effects exert greater influence than the opportunity cost effect in determining childbirth given the high cost of childcare and education in Korea.

See extended abstract

 Presented in Session P1. Poster Session Fertility, Family and the Life Course