The failure of South Korea, one of the world’s fastest-aging societies, to tackle a shrinking labor pool threatens to undermine growth and lessen the nation’s odds of producing the next Samsung Electronics Co. or Hyundai Motor Co. Only half of women aged 15 years or older were working last year and the participation of females with higher education is the lowest among the 34 members of the Organization for Cooperation and Economic Development.
“The choice for women between a job and family is still stark,” said Kim Tae Hong, research director at the state-run Korea Women’s Development Institute in Seoul. “Policies alone can’t change the people’s long-held belief that mom is fully responsible for child care.”
South Korea’s working-age population will begin to contract by 2016, curbing growth by as much as 1.7 percentage points to 2.5 percent by 2050, Royal Bank of Scotland Group Plc said in a June 13 report.
Getting mothers back into the workforce would help offset the declines, RBS said. If South Korea could reach the same level as the UK in employing women, potential growth and GDP per capita growth could be boosted by 0.3 percentage points by 2050, the bank said. In a May report the OECD asked whether women were the key to furthering the country’s economic “miracle.” …