Economic Inequality, Regional Disparity, and Political Inequality in South Korea

Woo Chang Kang (강우창)

This project examines subnational variations in inequality and its political consequences in South Korea. Economic inequality in South Korea deepens in two dimensions: the widening gap in income and wealth among residents in the more developed capital region and increasing disparity between the capital region and the non-capital regions. This book claims the dual inequality formulates distinctive economic and social policy preference between residents in the capital region and in the non-capital region. Rising inequality in the capital region promotes greater demands for redistribution among have-nots there; on the other hand, greater inter-regional disparity strengthens incentives of residents in the non-capital regions to obtain more resources from the center. Due to the regional party system along with the malapportionment in the National Assembly, however, the political process and electoral competition focus on who wins more resources in the inter-regional rivalry, which hinders the interests of the have-nots from being represented politically and alienates them further from politics. I will create a new dataset of inequality at the electoral district level based on housing ownership and prices, and conduct various analyses by combining this data with publically available social survey data, candidate manifesto, and an experimental survey of candidate selection.

ToC:  1. Introduction; 2. Understanding the Dual Inequality: A Historical Perspective; 3. Review and Theory; 4. Development or Welfare: A Conjoint Survey Experiment of Candidate Selection; 5. Development or Welfare: A Topic Modeling Analysis of Manifesto; 6. Local Inequality and Class Awareness: A Multilevel Analysis; 7. Local Inequality and Political Participation; 8. A comparison with Taiwan and Japan; 9. Conclusion