Pressured by mounting social conflict, Korean society is struggling on weak capabilities to secure social trust and coordinate public issues. The nation already bears the heavy weight of old feuds: chronic ideological conflict born from the long history of war and division; regional conflict caused by unbalanced regional development and division, which are rooted in party politics; and ethnic conflict arising from the growing influx of foreigners. However, combined with aggravating intergenerational conflict, social cohesion is poised to become an even bigger challenge for Korea.
This study is the result of multidisciplinary efforts to analyze and seek out feasible solutions to newly looming conflicts between generations. Intergenerational conflict is not simply the consequence of rapid changes within Korean society and resultant widening gap of experiences and awareness between generations. Conflict of interest between generations can be triggered by structural change with respect to the direction of distribution and investment brought on by a rapidly aging population and slow-growth phase of the economy, among others. This is well reflected in some young adults’ negative attitude towards the elderly welfare policy, extension of the retirement age and housing price stimulus plan.
In recognition of current conditions, this study first analyzes the generational disparities in terms of social awareness regarding social values, political behavior patterns and citizenship; which often sew the seeds of conflict as well as provide ways to reveal them. Then, it looks into intergenerational equity issues with respect to tax revenue and expenditure, encompassing the intergenerational tax burden and public transfer expenditure. Furthermore, it analyzes intergenerational problems in key social policy areas, including employment, housing and pension, and presents a win-win solution. Finally, the study concludes with suggestions to improve policy governance which will, in turn, enhance intergenerational equity and sustainability.