The motherhood effect on labour market outcomes: evidence from South Korea

Anna Kim, Youjin Hahn

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We examine mothers' relative labour market outcomes around the first childbirth in South Korea, a country with the highest gender pay gaps and the lowest fertility rate among the OECD countries. Using an event study approach, we find that while fathers remain unaffected, mothers' earnings drop sharply by 66.2 per cent over the long run, mostly driven by a reduction in labour force participation. For women who continue to work, motherhood lowers the probability of entering male-dominated occupations and industries but increases the probability of working in female-dominated occupations and industries. Finally, we find that motherhood has a stronger negative effect on labour market outcomes for less-educated mothers, young mothers, mothers who first bear children within two years of marriage, and mothers with three or more children.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)71-88
Number of pages18
JournalAsian-Pacific Economic Literature
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2022 Nov

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We thank various seminar participants for their generous comments. This research was supported by the Yonsei Signature Research Cluster Program of 2021 (2021-22-0011). An earlier version of this paper under the same title was published as the Korea Labor Institute's working paper series.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 Crawford School of Public Policy, The Australian National University and John Wiley & Sons Australia, Ltd.

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Development
  • Economics and Econometrics


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