Determinants of attitude toward the public health spending and its relationship with voting behavior in the 2012 South Korean presidential election

Sang Jun Eun, Jin Yong Lee, Hye Min Jung, Jin Seok Lee

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This study aimed to identify the factors influencing South Korean voters' attitudes towards increasing public expenditure on health and to identify whether the issue of healthcare expenditure influenced candidate choice in the 2012 Korean presidential election. The study used the data from a survey conducted by the Institute of Korean Politics at Seoul National University immediately following the 2012 presidential election. The survey was completed by a nationwide sample of 1,200 people aged 19 or over using a face-to-face interview method and proportional quota sampling based on sex, age, and region. About 44.3% of respondents had a positive attitude toward increasing public health expenditure. There was no significant difference by the candidate they supported (conservative Park Geun-hye or liberal Moon Jae-in). In particular, even 44.9% of conservative supporters agreed with more spending. Politically neutral respondents (OR = 1.76, 90% CI 1.22-2.54) and strong conservative party supporters (OR = 1.53, 90% CI 1.05-2.25) were more likely to support public health expenditure increase compared to strong liberal party supporters. Also, respondents who believed that the economic gap in the country was widening were 1.91 times more likely to support an increase in public health expenditures. However, the issue of health expenditure had no influence on voters' choice of presidential candidates, and in particular no negative effect of choice of the ruling (conservative) party's candidate. Our results should be interpreted with care; one possible reason for this lack of effect might be that constituents voted along partisan lines regardless of their attitude to the welfare issue; another possible explanation might be the success of the "left click strategy" of the conservative party. That is, the conservatives did not reject economic democratization or social welfare expansion. Further research should be done to explain why attitudes to health spending did not directly affect choice of candidate.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0163763
JournalPLoS ONE
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 2016

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