OECD Economics Department Working Papers

Working papers from the Economics Department of the OECD that cover the full range of the Department’s work including the economic situation, policy analysis and projections; fiscal policy, public expenditure and taxation; and structural issues including ageing, growth and productivity, migration, environment, human capital, housing, trade and investment, labour markets, regulatory reform, competition, health, and other issues.

The views expressed in these papers are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect those of the OECD or of the governments of its member countries.

English, French

Education Reform in Korea

The rapid expansion of education in Korea is exceptional and has played a key role in its economic development. Sustaining Korea’s growth potential in the face of demographic headwinds requires further improving the education system to boost productivity growth. One priority is to upgrade early childhood education and care (ECEC). Korea also needs to address the overemphasis on tertiary education, in part by improving vocational education, to reduce the mismatch problem that limits labour participation of youth. Tertiary education needs restructuring to improve quality. In addition, the large share of private spending in education increases the impact of socio-economic factors on educational outcomes. Education reforms are thus needed to promote inclusive growth, notably by: i) improving the access of low-income children to high-quality ECEC; ii) reducing reliance on private tutoring, notably at hagwons, by improving university admission procedures, expanding the quality and diversity of schools and upgrading vocational education; and iii) expanding loans to university students with repayment contingent on income after graduation. This Working Paper relates to the 2012 OECD Economic Survey of Korea (www.oecd.org/eco/surveys/Korea).


Keywords: secondary schools, pre-primary education, primary schools, ECEC, kindergarten, hagwons, Korean education, student loans, child care, universities, vocational education, after-school tutoring, Meister schools, tertiary education, Korea, tuition fees
JEL: I24: Health, Education, and Welfare / Education and Research Institutions / Education and Inequality; I22: Health, Education, and Welfare / Education and Research Institutions / Educational Finance; Financial Aid; I23: Health, Education, and Welfare / Education and Research Institutions / Higher Education; Research Institutions; I21: Health, Education, and Welfare / Education and Research Institutions / Analysis of Education
This is a required field
Please enter a valid email address
Approval was a Success
Invalid data
An Error Occurred
Approval was partially successful, following selected items could not be processed due to error