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  • P-ISSN 1738-656X

한국개발연구. Vol. 28, No. 1, June 2006, pp. 95-116

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On the Economic Impact of Foreign Labor Inflows in Korea

Chin Hee Hahn; Yong-Seok Choi

Author & Article History

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Traditionally, foreign labor inflow into Korea has been rare and, hence, issues on foreign workers did not draw much attention. However, changing economic conditions of the Korean economy, such as "labor-shortage" problem in SMEs in manufacturing sector, has made the Korean government open its door to the foreign workers since the early 1990s through the Industrial Trainee System. The inflow of foreign workers, on the other hand, has generated various social and economic problems, such as substantial increase of illegal over-stayers, illegal utilization of foreign unskilled workers by domestic SMEs, to name a few. Against this background, the Employment Permit System was implemented from 2004. This new system aims at supplying foreign workers to SMEs as well as protecting them as legal 'employees'. In any case, it is very important to understand how and to what extent the inflow of foreign workers have affected the Korean economy in order to establish long-term policy stance. This paper aims to empirically assess the economic impact of foreign workers on domestic workers in the manufacturing sector during 1997~20001, focusing on the Industrial Trainee System. The empirical results of the paper can be summarized as follows. First, there is some evidence that male semi-skilled workers are the group that is likely to have been displaced by industrial trainees. Second, we were unable to find any strong evidence suggesting that the inflow of foreign industrial trainees decreased wages of less-skilled Korean workers.


국제노동이동(Labor Mobility), 노동시장(Labor Market)

JEL Code

D2, C2

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