More South Korean women in their 30s drop out of the workforce

The labour force participation rate of women peaks between ages 25 and 29, before it plunges in the 30s as women leave work to care for their children.
By: | March 25, 2021

The labour force participation for South Korean women in their 30s falls as they leave the workplace to raise children, reveals data by the Korea Economic Research Institute.

The labour force participation rate of women aged between 25 and 29 reaches its peak at 71.1%, before it falls to 64.6% for women aged between 30 and 34, and down to 59.9% for women between 35 and 39 of age. 

Subsequently, the labour force participation picks up to 62.7% for women aged between 40 and 44, and to 67.4% for women between 45 and 49 of age.

In contrast, the employment rates of five other advanced nations – the United States, Japan, Germany, the United Kingdom and France – show a “U” shape in the participation rate of women by age, where the number of women employed increases until they reach their 40s. 

South Korea differs from the average labour participation rate of women in the other five countries by 5.9 percentage points. However, the gap gradually widens to 16.6 percentage points for women aged 35 to 39, before it narrows for women in their 40s. 

South Korea lacks a flexible labour market and support for women, compared to the other five countries where 14.9% of women are working part-time, as opposed to 8.9% in Seoul, noted the Korea Economic Research Institute. In Japan and the United Kingdom, this figure goes as high as 17.2%. 

READ: Record high number of jobseekers entering workforce in South Korea

“To help women… stay in the workforce, more support should be provided such as by increasing the number of childcare facilities and promoting parental leave,” said Chu Gwang-ho of the Korea Economic Research Institute, according to Dong-a Ilbo news.