S-Space College of Social Sciences (사회과학대학) Institute for Social Development and Policy Research (사회발전연구소) Development and Society Development and Society Vol.34 No.1/2 (2005)
Female Heads of Household in Low-Income Korean Families under the IMF Economic Crisis
- Park, Mee Hae; Ok, Sun Hwa
- Issue Date
- Institute for Social Development and Policy Research, Center for Social Sciences, Seoul National University
- Development and Society, Vol.34 No.2, pp. 271-286
- This research analyzes the emotional and economic situation faced by low-income, female heads of households at the time of the IMF crisis. We examined two groups of women, those who became the primary wage earners in their families as a direct result of the IMF crisis and those who did so before the crisis, and investigated the differences between the two groups. According to the results of this research, the two groups showed numerous differences on many levels. Those who became primary wage earners after the IMF crisis were high school or university graduates, with a higher proportion of them in their 30s, followed by those in their 40s, and half were still living with their spouses. The reasons behind their becoming the chief breadwinners of their families included divorce, the husbands sudden lay-offs or financial incompetence for supporting the family, and separation from their spouses. Female heads of household after the IMF crisis typically experienced severe financial difficulties due to the lower wages they earned through part-time work. They were also more likely to be living in apartments on temporary leases. It is shown that there was no significant difference between the two groups on the grounds that they received support from their natal families. However, while pre-IMF female heads of household were most likely to turn to family members first for support, post-IMF family heads were just as likely to look to their friends for support. Nevertheless, among post-IMF female breadwinners, siblings were also likely to offer help. These results can be interpreted as meaning female heads of household felt more at ease with their natal family members. The need for governmental support for these women is made apparent in their children, who were forced to stay in welfare facilities, and it was the presence of their mothers, rather than the fathers, that was most vital for the children.
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