Maternal Labor Supply Effect of Lowering School Entry Age: The Case of Korea

Jaehee Choi, University of Texas at Austin

South Korea has the lowest female labor force participation rate among the OECD countries. The prevalent career interruptions illustrate how difficult it is for women to combine work and family responsibilities. Recently, the South Korean government has begun to focus on building strategies to increase women’s labor force participation, especially by bringing back homemakers to the workforce. One proposed policy was to lower the school enrollment age by one year. This paper examines whether reducing the school entry age can increase mothers’ labor supply. If women are sequencing motherhood and working, then relieving the mothering responsibilities by enrolling children in school earlier may result in increased labor force participation. Using Korean Longitudinal Survey of Women and Families (KLoWF), I exploit a unique feature of the country's school entry law and apply a regression discontinuity design method to estimate the causal effect on mothers’ labor supply.

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Presented in Session 169: Labor Markets in Comparative Perspective