The Korean Journal of Economic Studies
Being Born with a Wooden Spoon Cannot Guarantee a Golden Future?
Taehee Oh (Bank of Korea) and Jangyoun Lee (Incheon National University)Year 2022Vol. 70No. 4
Since the mid-2010s, the so-called ‘Spoon Class Theory’ that parental wealth is a prerequisite for their children’s success has been widespread throughout Korean society. This study examines whether the actual labor market data supports this social perception by building the sample connecting parents and their children using the 1998-2021 Korea Labor and Income Panel Study. Our empirical results show a close positive association between parental financial wealth and their children’s labor market outcomes, such as job quality and wage growth path (the so-called ‘Wooden-spoon Discount Effect’). These results suggest that the government needs to minimize inequality of opportunities at the early stages of the youth labor market by repairing the broken social ladder to support young employees to climb up from the bottom to the top.