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KDI Policy Forum

Married Women’s Continued Participation in the Labor Market and Childbirth: Relevant Factors and Policy Implications

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  • Author KIM.Inkyung
  • Date 2018/02/01
  • Series No. KDI Policy Forum No. 268 (2018-01), eng.
  • Language English
SUMMARY □ This study analyzes the impact of work-family balance policies and men’s contribution in the home to women’s continued economic activities and the fertility rate, and explores policy measures that can lessen the burden incurred by women due to career breaks and having children.

□ Empirical analysis results show that the work-family balance policies and men’s participation in the home are strongly correlated to women’s continued career and plans for children.

- In terms of the average marginal effect, the provision of maternity leave increases the probability of children by 3.0%p while that of parental leave increases the likelihood of women continuing to participate in the labor market by 4.0%p.

- Compared to full-time workers, voluntary and non-voluntary part-time workers are 5.8%p and 4.9%p less likely to continue with their economic activities while only voluntary workers are 2.0%p more likely to have children.

- A 50%p increase in the proportion of husband’s housework hours in the couple’s total raises the probability of women continuing their careers by 3.5%p.

□ To improve the accessibility of programs, the coverage rate of employment insurance must be expanded as well as ‘smart labor inspections’ and consultation services.

- Currently, only insured workers are entitled to paid maternity/parental leave and reduced working hours for childcare.

- The government should actively engage in promoting the available systems that can assist uninsured workers to obtain benefits. Also, more labor services should be provided that offer consultation services for possible problems and difficulties incurred during the use of the programs.

- Smart labor inspections investigate workplaces suspected of failing to provide proper support to insured pregnant female employees and their families.

- Employers should be provided with the knowhow on assigning specialized tasks to existing employees and finding replacements to handle the remaining duties.

□ In order to enhance men’s participation in the home, bonuses for men taking parental leave and increasing the income replacement ratio for shorter leaves should be considered.

- At present, men cannot receive their bonuses even if they are taking parental leave instead of their spouses because they are uninsured or refused by their employers.

- Another measure that is worth consideration is increasing the income replacement ratio for men taking shorter parental leave based on the fact that men expect higher income security during leave and usually take shorter parental leave than women.
KDI VOD Report
Many countries around the globe have embraced work-family balance policies
to bolster the fertility rate and women’s participation in the labor market.

Korea’s key work-family balance polices include maternity leave,
parental leave and reduced working hours for childcare,
which are provided to those who have been covered by employment insurance
for over 6 months.

The use of maternity leave in Korea is high,
marking 84.6% of all health-insured employees in 2015.

As for parental leave, the utilization rate is not as high.

The government even provides special bonuses for men taking parental leave,
wherein the father receives a higher pay rate
when the leave is taken in succession to the mother.

However, only 13.4% of parental leave takers are men.

And, despite the fact Korea provides the longest parental leave for men
within the OECD,
the income replacement ratio remains at a low 32.8%.

Additionally, those reducing their working hours for childcare
totaled a mere 3% or 2,761 of parental leave takers in 2016.

Meanwhile, government subsidies are offered to companies
that offer work-family balance programs.
But, awareness of such provisions is still very limited.

Then, how does work-family balance policies affect
women’s continued participation
in the labor market and childbirth?

According to KDI analysis,
the provision of maternity leave contributes to the fertility rate
while parental leave enables women to continue with their economic activities.

part-time workers are less likely to continue working than full-time workers,
and only when the part-time employment is voluntary does the fertility rate increase.

Next, a review was conducted on the correlation between men’s contribution
in the home and women’s continued economic activities.

It was revealed that despite the decline in the total number of housework hours
in dual-income households during the past decade,
more than 80% of the housework is still done by women.

Also, women are 3.5%p more likely to continue their economic activities
if the men’s contribution in the home increases 50%p
in the couple’s total housework hours.

As such,
in order to improve Korea’s fertility rate and women’s participation in the labor market,
measures should be sought to improve the accessibility of work-family balance programs
and men’s participation in the home.

The coverage rate of employment insurance for women must be expanded
as the relevant pay under work-family balance policies are
only offered to those who are insured.

Meanwhile, there are also cases wherein the programs are not utilized
even though the workers are insured.

As such, work-family programs should be further promoted and
labor consultation services provided to resolve problems and
difficulties in utilizing the programs.

Additionally, a strict monitoring of companies
that are suspected of noncompliance is needed.
Indeed, more female workers would be able to benefit
if there was a stricter management of companies with poor performance
in the provision of programs
using the National Health and Employment Insurance Service database.

And, in order to improve employers’ perceptions
about work-family balance policies,
the government must enhance its promotional efforts
about the available subsidies and support.
Also, consultation services should be provided to employers
to educate them on assigning tasks and distributing gains
as well as employing replacement employees.

Finally, to enhance men’s participation in the home,
measures such as bonuses for men’s parental leave and
increasing the income replacement ratio of
those taking shorter parental leave should be considered.
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