SEOUL, Feb.1 (Korea Bizwire) – Riches, education and social status are being passed down in current Korean society, proving that there are no ‘rags to riches’ fairy tales anymore.
According to an investigation conducted by the Korea Institute for Health and Social Affairs, the ‘gold spoon, dirt spoon class theory’ currently mentioned by young people is true. ‘Gold spoons’ are people born into wealthy and able families, and ‘dirt spoons’ are those who are born into families with nothing. The term has recently become popular among young Koreans, mocking the current society where one’s parents’ social status takes a person further in success than their own efforts.
The research team at the Korea Institute for Health and Social Affairs conducted a survey that looked perceptions of class theory. The team divided 1,342 male respondents into three groups of different generations, the industrialization generation (181 people, born between 1940 and 1959), the democratization generation (593 people, born between 1960 and 1974) and the information generation (568 people, born between 1975 and 1995).
Firstly, the education status of the respondents’ fathers as well as their own education status was analyzed. In most cases, those with higher educational outcomes had fathers with higher levels of education.
For fathers that had a lower education than junior high school, 16.4 percent of the respondents had a lower education than junior high school. However, the chances of the respondent having a higher education went up by 64 percent among the industrialization generation, 79.7 percent among the democratization generation, and 89.6 percent among the information generation, when their fathers were generally better educated.
In addition, the occupation of the respondents’ fathers influenced the jobs of the respondents. If their father was in professional management, the respondent was more likely to work in professional management. The trend was more noticeable among those in the information generation.
Comparing the social status of the respondents when they were around the age of 15, and the current social status, there was a very low chance that the respondent would shift to a different social class than their fathers.
In other words, barriers to social mobility are strengthening, and Koreans have difficulty escaping the life they were born into. The phenomenon is especially noticeable among those in the information generation.
Similar traits were detected among those in the democratization generation, but there was more of an opportunity for them to have a chance to shift to a higher social status. In contrast, shifting to upper-middle class could be achieved through one’s efforts among those in the industrialization generation.
According to the research team, parental education influenced salaries as well as education among respondents in the democratization generation, and among the information generation, not only the parents’ education but also the economic background of a family turned out to influence the respondents’ salaries.
The results show that as time passes, the economic status of parents has an increasing influence on a child’s achievement of human capital (education) and achievement in the labor market (salary and occupation).
By Francine Jung (firstname.lastname@example.org)