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Strengthening Social Cohesion in Korea

image of Strengthening Social Cohesion in Korea

Korea is confronting a serious challenges. It has to improve income equality in the context of a severe demographic transition. Such a transition, from one of the youngest populations in the OECD at present to the second oldest by 2050, may boost the need for public spending and slow economic growth. In this context and as the pace of population ageing is accelerating, it is important to act quickly in a wide range of areas:

-Policies to sustain Korea’s growth potential in the face of falling labour inputs;

-Measures that improve both growth and equality;

-Carefully-targeted increases in social spending to reduce inequality and poverty;

-Financing higher social spending, with priority given to a reform of tax and social security that minimises the negative impact on output growth.

Against the background of these broad challenges, which are discussed in a specific, setting-the-ground, Chapter, the report suggests policy options, based on the practices and reforms of other countries, in the following four areas: I) Income Distribution and Poverty; II) Tackling the Duality of the Labour Market; III) Early Childcare; and IV) Moving beyond Hospitals to better Care in the Community.

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Combined early childhood education and care measures to ensure social cohesion

This chapter assesses the current early childhood education and care (ECEC) programmes in Korea. Korea should carefully consider the priorities among its ECEC policy goals: i) ensuring equity for children in disadvantaged families; ii) raising maternal labour force participation, as well as work-life balance, especially in a manner more equitable for women; iii) boosting the fertility rate, and iv) regarding ECEC as public responsibility. To meet these goals, Korea should first and foremost ease the financial burden on parents for having children and for meeting the associated education cost. Channelling more public spending is required. ECEC is crucial for improving the educational development of children, but its effects will depend on the quality of provision. Good quality and affordable ECEC services can influence parents’ decisions, such as whether to go back to work after starting a family or to have more children.

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