Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Do societal expectations/pressure drive unhappiness in South Korea?
by Kang, Jun Hee, M.P.P., Georgetown University, 2015, 37; 1586276
Abstract (Summary)

While South Korea is ranked high in education, economies and technological development, the level of South Koreans' happiness has not grown simultaneously. This fact contradicts the common sense that improvements in living standards, such as income or education, lead to gains in happiness or individual wellbeing. In order to examine the phenomenon of decreasing perceived individual wellbeing in light of increasing income levels, I analyze the relationship between societal expectations/pressure and happiness in South Korea, using data from the World Value survey conducted in 2010. The uniquely high concentration on human capital in South Korea has played a major factor for extreme competitiveness. Since the financial crisis in 1997, the competitive job market has produced few job opportunities, which has caused a high level of social pressure. The major finding of this study is that the impact of societal expectations on unhappiness increases as people get older and it is more powerful among people of lower income. Also, social pressure has a greater negative effect on happiness for females than males in South Korea. Even when controlling for independent variables, including job security, wages, and high living costs, I show social pressure to have a first order impact on perceived well-being among Korean citizens. From a policy perspective, low levels of happiness can ultimately cause social instability and loss of human capital. Expected policy implications are increasing the number of college entrance exams and fostering work life balance initiatives. In this sense, the findings of this paper can serve as a guideline for the South Korean government not only to improve the overall economic productivity of South Korean society, but also enhance the quality of life along important societal dimensions.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Kern, Andreas T.
Commitee: Schone, Barbara
School: Georgetown University
Department: Public Policy and Policy Management
School Location: United States -- District of Columbia
Source: MAI 54/04M(E), Masters Abstracts International
Subjects: Public administration, Psychology, Public policy
Keywords: Happiness, Korea, Life satisfaction, Social pressure, Suicide, World Value Survey
Publication Number: 1586276
ISBN: 978-1-321-67570-2
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