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The Distribution And Polarization Of Income In Korea, 1965-2005: A Historical Analysis


  • Sung Yeung Kwack

    () (Howard University)

  • Young Sun Lee

    () (Yonsei University)


Four measures of inequality in the distribution of income, income sources, consumption, and saving for salary-and-wage-earner households in cities of Korea are reported. Polarization measures are also computed. Income distribution shows improvement during the early part of the 1990s, but modest deterioration during the period 1998-2005. The income inequality variations are found to result mostly from variations in wage inequality. We find that income gaps between the top 10 percent and the bottom 10 percent groups have been widening. Income inequality and polarization did increase in the early 2000s. However, no definitive evidence is found on the presence of a rising trend of polarization. Comparing the Gini and real mean income per household for the United States, Taiwan, and Korea from 1984 to 2003 indicates that Korea¡¯s Gini varied relatively favorably.

Suggested Citation

  • Sung Yeung Kwack & Young Sun Lee, 2007. "The Distribution And Polarization Of Income In Korea, 1965-2005: A Historical Analysis," Journal of Economic Development, Chung-Ang Unviersity, Department of Economics, vol. 32(2), pages 1-39, December.
  • Handle: RePEc:jed:journl:v:32:y:2007:i:2:p:1-39

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Joan Esteban & Carlos Gradin & Debraj Ray, 1999. "Extensions of a Measure of Polarization with an Application to the Income Distribution of Five OECD Countries," LIS Working papers 218, LIS Cross-National Data Center in Luxembourg.
    2. Michael Förster & Mark Pearson, 2003. "Income Distribution and Poverty in the OECD Area: Trends and Driving Forces," OECD Economic Studies, OECD Publishing, vol. 2002(1), pages 7-38.
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    Cited by:

    1. Wang, Chen & Wan, Guanghua, 2015. "Income polarization in China: Trends and changes," China Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 36(C), pages 58-72.

    More about this item


    Korea; Distribution of Income; Polarization;

    JEL classification:

    • D31 - Microeconomics - - Distribution - - - Personal Income and Wealth Distribution


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