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Korea has OECD’s highest proportion of low-paid women

July 3, 2017 - 16:56 By Korea Herald
South Korea had the highest proportion of low-paid female employees out of its total labor force among member countries of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development in 2015, mainly due to the gender pay gap, data showed Monday.

“Low paid” was defined as those receiving wages less than two-thirds of the median wage. 


The proportion of such women was 37.6 percent in Korea in 2015, the highest among 15 OECD members. The figure is much higher than that of the US, which ranked second with 29.5 percent.

Finland had the lowest figure with 10.4 percent and Denmark was the second lowest with 11.4 percent.

In contrast, Korea’s proportion of low-paid male workers ranked ninth with 15.2 percent.

The combined proportion of both low-paid female and male workers was 23.5 percent in Korea, fourth highest among the OECD, after Colombia with 25.3 percent, the US with 25 percent and Ireland with 24 percent.

The high proportion of women who receive low wages in Korea has changed little in recent years, though it fell from 45.8 percent in 2000 to 38.2 percent in 2011.

Experts attributed the high proportion of low-paid Korean women to the gender wage gap. Korean women get paid 63.4 percent of the average wage of Korean men, while the OECD average is 85 percent

Chang Ji-yeun, a senior research fellow at the state-run think tank Korea Labor Institute, said Korean women who are eligible for highly paid jobs do not actually find such jobs, whereas those whose potential wage is low actively enter the labor market.

“Even when highly educated women retain jobs for more than 10 years, they get only about 80 percent of the average wage of similar-level male workers. This means that even when women do not quit working due to child care, they still face discrimination in the labor market,” Chang said in a report.

“Due to the glass ceiling, women with high levels of human capital tend to hesitate entering the labor market. With the child care burden heavily focused on women, they are not able to face fair competition in the labor market.”

By Kim Yoon-mi (