Gender, professional and non-professional work, and the changing pattern of employment-related inequality in poor self-rated health, 1995-2006 in South Korea

Il Ho Kim, Young Ho Khang, Sung Il Cho, Heeran Chun, Carles Muntaner

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Objectives: We examined gender differential changes in employment-related health inequalities according to occupational position (professional/ nonprofessional) in South Korea during the last decade. Methods: Data were taken from four rounds of Social Statistical Surveys of South Korea (1995, 1999, 2003, and 2006) from the Korean National Statistics Office. The total study population was 55435 male and 33 913 female employees aged 25-64. Employment arrangements were divided into permanent, fixed-term, and daily employment. Results: After stratification according to occupational position (professional/nonprofessional) and gender, different patterns in employment - related health inequalities were observed. In the professional group, the gaps in absolute and relative employment inequalities for poor self-rated health were more likely to widen following Korea's 1997 economic downturn. In the nonprofessional group, during the study period, graded patterns of employment-related health inequalities were continuously observed in both genders. Absolute health inequalities by employment status, however, decreased among men but increased among women. In addition, a remarkable increase in relative health inequalities was found among female temporary and daily employees (p = 0.009, < 0.001, respectively), but only among male daily employees (p = 0.001). Relative employment-related health inequalities had clearly widened for female daily workers between 2003 and 2006 (p = 0.047). The 1997 Korean economic downturn, in particular, seemingly stimulated a widening gap in employment health inequalities. Conclusions: Our study revealed that whereas absolute health inequalities in relation to employment status increased in the professional group, relative employment-related health inequalities increased in the nonprofessional group, especially among women. In view of the high concentration of female nonstandard employees, further monitoring of inequality should consider gender specific patterns according to employee's occupational and employment status.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)22-31
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Preventive Medicine and Public Health
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2011


  • Employment status
  • Gender
  • Health inequality
  • Self-rated health

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