OECD Economic Surveys: Korea

Frequency :
Every 18 months
1999-0707 (online)
1995-364X (print)
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OECD’s periodic surveys of the Korean economy. Each edition surveys the major challenges faced by the country, evaluates the short-term outlook, and makes specific policy recommendations. Special chapters take a more detailed look at specific challenges. Extensive statistical information is included in charts and graphs.

Also available in: French
OECD Economic Surveys: Korea 2012

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26 Apr 2012
Pages :
9789264127845 (PDF) ; 9789264127838 (print)

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OECD's 2012 Economic Survey of Korea examines recent economic developments, policies and prospects. In addition, it includes special chapters covering sustaining convergence to the highest-income countries and promoting social cohesion.

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  • Basic statistics of Korea
  • Executive summary
    Despite the recent slowdown in world trade, Korea is projected to sustain growth of around 3½ per cent during 2012. Given future spending pressures, fiscal policy should target a balanced budget (excluding the social security surplus). However, if the global economy were to experience a serious downturn, Korea has scope to respond with fiscal stimulus, given its strong fiscal position, and monetary policy easing. Looking further ahead, Korea faces two key challenges...
  • Assessment and recommendations
    Korea recovered faster and more vigorously from the 2008 global crisis than most OECD countries (Figure 1), and enjoys low unemployment and low government debt. Growth slowed in late 2011, reflecting the deterioration in the world economy, but is projected at around 3½ per cent in 2012, thanks in part to continued momentum in China...
  • Sustaining Korea's convergence to the highest-income countries
    While Korea remains one of the fastest-growing OECD economies, its potential growth rate per capita is projected to decelerate from around 4% during the current decade to around 2¼ per cent during the 2030s. Sustaining output growth requires policies to mitigate the impact of rapid population ageing by increasing labour inputs from under-utilised segments of the population. In particular, female labour participation should be encouraged by better work-life balance and increasing the availability of high-quality, affordable childcare, in part by raising tuition fee subsidies and improving the quality of private childcare centres. More flexible employment and wage systems would increase the age at which older workers leave firms. For young people, improved vocational education at the secondary and tertiary levels would help overcome the labour mismatch problem and the overemphasis on tertiary education. Enhancing educational quality at all levels would promote productivity gains, including in services. Strengthened competition is also a key to narrow the large productivity gap between services and manufacturing.
  • Achieving the "low carbon, green growth" vision in Korea
    Korea, which has had the highest growth rate of greenhouse gas emissions in the OECD area since 1990, adopted an ambitious Green Growth Strategy in 2009. It aims at reducing emissions by 30% by 2020 relative to a "business as usual" scenario, implying a 4% cut from the 2005 level. The Strategy also includes a Five- Year Plan with public spending of 2% of GDP per year to promote green growth. Korea is planning to establish a carbon price through a cap-and-trade emissions trading scheme. Such an approach, combined with a carbon tax in sectors not covered by the scheme, is necessary to reduce emissions in a cost-effective manner and foster innovation in green technology. In addition, each sector should face the same electricity price based on production costs to promote efficient energy use. Given market failures, the government has a role to play in green R&D, particularly for basic research, in fostering green finance and in developing renewable energy resources.
  • Promoting social cohesion in Korea
    Korea faces the challenge of reversing rising inequality while sustaining robust economic growth. Well-targeted increases in Korea’s low level of social spending are needed to fill holes in the safety net, especially for the elderly. The development of social security depends on closing gaps in coverage, which are due in part to labour market dualism. Dualism creates serious equity concerns, as non-regular workers face significantly lower wages, precarious jobs, less coverage by social security and less training. A comprehensive approach is required to break down dualism, including reduced employment protection for regular workers, improved social insurance coverage for non-regular workers and expanded training of non-regular workers. Education reforms are also needed to promote inclusive growth, notably by: i) improving the access of low-income children to high-quality early childhood education and care; ii) reducing reliance on private tutoring, notably at hagwons; and iii) expanding income-contingent loans to tertiary students.
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