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Demographic change, human capital, and economic growth in Korea


  • Jong-Suk Han
  • Jong-Wha Lee


In this study, we construct a measure of human capital using micro datasets on labor composition of age, gender, education, and wage rate and analyze its role in economic growth for the Korean economy. Over the past three decades, human capital has grown steadily at about 1% per year, contrasting to a continuously declining trend of total work-hours. This growth has been driven by the rise of better-educated baby boom cohorts. A growth accounting exercise shows that human capital contributes significantly to economic growth; it accounted for 0.5% points of annual GDP growth over the period. Human capital is projected to remain a major growth factor over the next two decades as the increase in educational attainment continues. Increased employment rate of elderly or female workers reduces the aggregate human capital growth while increasing the available labor. Polices to improve human capital of less-productivity workers will help to support aggregate human capital and economic growth.

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  • Jong-Suk Han & Jong-Wha Lee, 2019. "Demographic change, human capital, and economic growth in Korea," CAMA Working Papers 2019-39, Centre for Applied Macroeconomic Analysis, Crawford School of Public Policy, The Australian National University.
  • Handle: RePEc:een:camaaa:2019-39

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    More about this item


    Aging; Demographic change; Education; Human capital; Growth; Training;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • I25 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Education and Economic Development
    • J24 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Human Capital; Skills; Occupational Choice; Labor Productivity
    • O47 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Growth and Aggregate Productivity - - - Empirical Studies of Economic Growth; Aggregate Productivity; Cross-Country Output Convergence
    • O53 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economywide Country Studies - - - Asia including Middle East

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