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Separate but Near: Senior Parents’ Living Arrangement and Married Women’s Employment in South Korea

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It is well documented that co-residence with senior parents increases the likelihood that married women join the labour force in East Asian countries, such as Japan, Taiwan and South Korea. Parents help their married daughters or daughters-in-law with family responsibilities, allowing them to work for pay. Extending this established hypothesis of parental living arrangement, I argue that parents living separate but near, as well as together, have similar positive implications for married women’s employment. I test this argument using the case of Korea. Analysing a Korean national representative sample of married couples, I find that married women receive manual help often from their parents living separate but near and so are more likely to work for pay. By living in the same neighbourhood, the two generations keep their privacy and still exchange their support with each other. The literature on married women’s employment and inter-generational support in East Asian countries should consider the distances of the households of the two generations, even though they live separate.

Affiliations: 1: University of Seoul


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