Open Access

The gender wage gap: evidence from South Korea

   | Oct 23, 2022


Using microdata between 1998 and 2020, this study provides potential explanations for the gender wage gap in South Korea, which continues to be the largest among Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) countries. Although improvement in females’ relative measured labor market characteristics plays an important role in the reduction of the gender wage gap, these characteristics cannot explain a large part of the gap, and wage convergence between full-time male and female workers has slowed over the period. Indeed, the unexplained gender wage gap has become larger than the explained gender wage gap. This is confirmed when a decomposition of the gender wage gap is performed across the wage distribution. This study provides evidence of the existence of a glass ceiling. In addition, this study shows that, in South Korea, where conservative gender-related norms still persist, the effects of marriage and childbirth can help to account for a dramatic increase in the gender wage gap for female workers in their 30s and 40s.