Welfare Systems and its Impacts on Health Outcomes in South Korea

Document Type


Presentation Date


Conference Name

Korean Association for Policy Studies International Conference

Conference Location

Seoul, South Korea


This paper seeks to investigate the effects of social welfare systems on health outcomes in South Korea. Even though South Korea has experienced substantial economic growth since the 1960s, social supporting systems protecting its citizens from economic insecurity have not made enough progress yet. The social welfare expenditures account for only 10.81 % as share of GDP, which is substantially lower than the OECD average, 23%. At the same time, health care expenditures account for only 5.7% as share of GDP, which ranks at the bottom among 30 OECD countries. In line with these indicators, South Korea ranks in the lowest quality of life among the OECD countries according to international well-being indexes. As one of the indicators of citizens’ well-being, this paper looks at population health outcomes (e.g. infant mortality rates) and investigates how it varies across localities depending on their social welfare systems measured as public expenditures controlling for other socio-economic factors. At the same time, this paper also disentangles the effects of income inequality on population health outcomes. Cross-national studies explore the association of income inequality with health outcomes extensively; however, few scholars pay attention to the relationship. In this sense, I expect that this paper fills the gap and builds solid foundation for understanding the relationships among social welfare systems, income distribution, and population health outcomes. Given the fact that negative health effects are concentrated on the low income populations, this study will draw policy implications for improving the fairness and equity in a society.


Social Welfare Systems, Population Health


Public Affairs, Public Policy and Public Administration

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