Asia Health Policy Program launches working paper series

The Asia Health Policy Program has launched a new working paper series on health and demographic change in Asia with a working paper on informal caregiving for the elderly in South Korea. Authored by Young Kyung Do, the inaugural postdoctoral fellow in comparative health policy with the Asia Health Policy Program, the first working paper provides evidence to inform elderly long-term care policy in South Korea.

As Dr. Do notes in the abstract of his paper, informal care is embedded in traditional culture perpetuating family-centered elderly care and is still viewed as a family or moral issue rather than a social and policy issue in South Korea. Using newly available microdata from the Korean Longitudinal Study of Aging, the study investigates the effect of informal caregiving on labor market outcomes in South Korea. It fills a gap in the international literature by providing results from an Asian country. Empirical analyses address various methodological issues by investigating gender differences, by examining both extensive and intensive labor market adjustments with two definitions of labor force participation, by employing different functional forms of care intensity, and by accounting for the potential endogeneity of informal care as well as intergenerational co-residence. Robust findings suggest negative effects of informal caregiving on labor market outcomes among women, but not among men. Compared with otherwise similar non-caregivers, female intensive caregivers who provide at least 10 hours of care per week are at an increased risk of being out of the labor force by 15.2 percentage points. When examining the probability of employment in the formal sector only, the effect magnitude is smaller. Among employed women, more intensive caregivers receive lower hourly wages by 1.65K Korean Won than otherwise similar non-caregivers. Informal care is already an important economic issue in South Korea even though aging is still at an early stage.

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