Economic Assimilation of North Korean Refugees in South Korea: Survey Evidence
- Economic Assimilation of North Korean Refugees in South Korea: Survey Evidence
- Kim, Jihong; Kim, Taejong
- economic assimilation; refugees; North Korea
- Issue Date
- Series/Report no.
- KDI Working Paper Series;06-19
- This paper studies the economic assimilation of North Korean refugees settled in the
South. Do the North Korean refugees get assimilated into the labor market in the South
at all? If yes, how fast is the assimilation? More specifically, what is the initial wage gap
at the entry between refugees and native workers with identical observable
characteristics? How does the gap change as time passes? For the purpose, we analyze
the unique survey data set constructed for this study. The cross section survey has
detailed retrospective information not just on labor market activities of the refugees, but
also on their economic life while still in the North. The survey covers about 700 adult
refugees. For the comparison of the refugee workers with the natives, the survey data set
are combined with the 2002 wave of the Korea Labor Institute Panel Study (KLIPS). In
comparison to the assimilation of immigrant workers in the US, initial wage gap seems
much larger for the North Korean refugee workers, but also closes at a higher rate than
is the case in the US. The disconcerting finding is that the gap in employment
probabilities is also large in the Korean context, and takes a long time to close,
especially for female refugee workers.
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