How policy configurations matter: a critical look into pro-natal policy in South Korea based on a gender and family framework
Category: Journal Articles
Lee. K. & Zaidi, A. (2020) How policy configurations matter: a critical look into pro-natal policy in South Korea based on a gender and family framework. International Journal of Sociology and Social Policy . Vol. ahead-of-print No. ahead-of-print. https://doi.org/10.110/IJSSP-12-2019-0260
South Korea has shown ultra-low fertility since the 2000s despite a massive expansion of pro-natal policies. The purpose of this research is to analyse institutional and socio-cultural configurations surrounding Korea's pro-natal policy and provide implications as to why the comprehensive packages have not produced intended outcomes.
This study assumes institutional complementarities, suggesting that the effectiveness of policy depends on various support factors. Drawing out insights from the framework of de-familisation, the authors construct a gender and family framework to analyse the pro-natal policy configurations in Korea.
Labour market policies in Korea have explicitly aimed to support dual-earner couples and protect women's employment status after childbirth. However, the dualistic labour market and remaining female-caregiver norms lead to the polarisation of couples into dual earners and male breadwinners. In family policy, the government has rapidly increased affordable childcare services, but widespread distrust in private services and generous birth-related cash benefits formulate a tension between de-familisation and continued familisation. Other welfare programmes that attach welfare rights to marital status also prolong female-caregiver norms in institutional arrangements. The findings suggest that the ambivalence between recent policy developments and the existing arrangements can limit the effectiveness of the policy packages.
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