Causes of Inequality in South Korea from a Capitalism Variety Approach

Main Article Content

José Alejandro Pérez-Nájera


Network economy, Business groups, Gender gap, Social spending, JEL codes: D31, D63, O53, P36


This article identifies the causes that have maintained a high level of inequality in South Korea, through the Varieties of Capitalism (VoC) approach, which classifies the country as a network economy. The study further elaborates on the discussion of the determinants of inequality in countries with a high Gross Domestic Product per capita (GDPp) and the operation of three negative complementarities that maintain these imbalances: gender, social spending, and poverty. To this end, data generated by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) are methodologically and descriptively addressed. In conclusion, inequalities concerning gender, social spending, and poverty constitute a complex negative complementarity that permeates the income distribution of the Asian country.


Download data is not yet available.
Abstract 841 | PDF (Español) Downloads 1564


Acemoglu, D., Robinson, J. A., & Verdier, T. (2017). Asymmetric growth and institutions in an interdependent world. Journal of Political Economy, 125(5), 1245–1305.

Amable, B. (2016). Institutional complementarities in the dynamic comparative analysis of capitalism. Journal of Institutional Economics, June 2015, 79–103.

Cudd, A. E. (2015). Is Capitalism Good for Women? Journal of Business Ethics, 127(4), 761–770.

Davis, G. F., & Cobb, J. A. (2010). Corporations and economic inequality around the world: The paradox of hierarchy. Research in Organizational Behavior, 30, 35–53.

Demirbag, M., Wood, G., Makhmadshoev, D., & Rymkevich, O. (2017). Varieties of CSR: Institutions and Socially Responsible Behaviour. International Business Review, 26(6), 1064–1074.

Do, H., Patel, C., Budhwar, P., Katou, A. A., Arora, B., & Dao, M. (2019). Institutionalism and its effect on HRM in the ASEAN context: Challenges and opportunities for future research. Human Resource Management Review, October 2018, 100729.

Estevez-Abe, M. (2009). Gender, Inequality and Capitalism: The ‘Varieties of Capitalism’ and Women. Social Politics: International Studies in Gender, State & Society, 16(2), 182–191.

Fainshmidt, S., Judge, W. Q., Aguilera, R. V, & Smith, A. (2018). Varieties of institutional systems: A contextual taxonomy of understudied countries. Journal of World Business, 53(3), 307–322.

Guillaud, E., Olckers, M., & Zemmour, M. (2020). Four Levers of Redistribution: The Impact of Tax and Transfer Systems on Inequality Reduction. Review of Income and Wealth, 66(2), 444–466.

Hall, P. A., & Soskice, D. (2001). An Introduction to Varieties of Capitalism. In Varieties of Capitalism (pp. 1–68). Oxford University Press.

Hall, P. H., Soskice, D., Económico, S. D., & Mar, N. J. (2006). A proposito de los capitalismos contemporaneos*. Desarrollo Económico, 45(180), 573–590.

Han, S. M., & Chang, E. C. C. (2016). Economic Inequality, Winner-loser Gap and Satisfaction with Democracy. Electoral Studies, 44, 85–97.

Kammas, P., & Sarantides, V. (2019). Do Dictatorships Redistribute More? Journal of Comparative Economics, 47(1), 176–195.

Keeley, B. (2018). Desigualdad de ingresos. OECD.

Kibler, E., Salmivaara, V., Stenholm, P., & Terjesen, S. (2018). The Evaluative Legitimacy of Social Entrepreneurship in Capitalist Welfare Systems. Journal of World Business, 53(6), 944–957.

Kim, H., & Lee, Y. (2018). Socioeconomic Status, Perceived Inequality of Opportunity, and Attitudes Toward Redistribution. The Social Science Journal, 55(3), 300–312.

Kim, N. (2015). Top Incomes In Korea, 1933-2010: Evidence From Income Tax Statistics. Hitotsubashi Journal of Economics, 56, 1–19.

Lee, K., & Shin, H. (2018). Varieties Of Capitalism and East Asia: Long-Term Evolution, Structural Change, and the End of East Asian Capitalism. Structural Change and Economic Dynamics. strueco.2018.06.006

Milanovic, B. (2011). A Short History of Global Inequality: The Past Two Centuries. Explorations in Economic History, 48(4), 494–506.

Milanovic, B. (2016). Global Inequality: A New Approach for the Age of Globalization. In harvard University Press. Harvard University Press.

OECD. (2014). Resultados de PISA 2012 en foco Overview. In Pisa.

Ostry, J., Berg, A., & Tsangarides, C. (2014). Redistribution, Inequality, and Growth. Staff Discussion Notes, 14(02), 1.

Park, S. W. (2019). Democracy, Domestic Institutions, and Inequality: Evidence from Emerging Countries and South Korea. In University of British Columbia (Issue December). Doctoral dissertation, University of British Columbia.

Piketty, T. (2014). El capital en el siglo XXI. En El capital en el siglo XXI (pp. 15–50 y 643–649). Fondo de Cultura Económica.

Piketty, T. (2020). Capital and Ideology (Issue Harvard University Pres). Harvard University Pres.

Piketty, T., Yang, L., & Zucman, G. (2019). Capital Accumulation, Private Property, and Rising Inequality in China, 1978–2015. American Economic Review, 109(7), 2469–2496.

Ravallion, M. (2020). On Measuring Global Poverty. Annual Review of Economics, 12(1), annureveconomics-081919-022924.

Rodrik, D. (2020). Why Does Globalization Fuel Populism? Economics, Culture, and the Rise of Right-Wing Populism. The Economic Journal. Harvard, June.

Romero, J. A., & Berasaluce, J. (2018). Corea y México. In Corea y México. El Colegio de México.

Romero, J., & Julen-berasaluce, I. (2019). Estado Desarrollador. Casos exitosos y lecciones para México (primera ed). El Colegio de México.

Saucedo, E., Rullán, S., & Villafuerte, L. (2015). Hierarchical capitalism in Latin America: Comparative analysis with other economies. Dubrovnik International Economic Meeting, 2(1), 370–387.

Schneider, B. R. (2007). Comparing Capitalisms : Liberal , Coordinated , Network , and Hierarchical Varieties. 1–32.

Schneider, B. R. (2009). Hierarchical Market Economies and Varieties of Capitalism in Latin America. In Journal of Latin American Studies.

Schneider, B. R., & Soskice, D. (2009). Inequality in Developed Countries and Latin America: Coordinated, Liberal and Hierarchical Systems. Economy and Society, 38(1), 17–52.

Shin, K. (2019). Neo-Liberal Economic Reform , Social Change , and Inequality in the Post-Crisis Period in South Korea. 73(1), 89–109.

Song, C. (2019). Period Changes in Intergenerational Income Mobility between Welfare State Contexts in South Korea and the United States [University of Washington].

Stierli, M., Shorrocks, A., Davies, J. B., Lluberas, R., & & Koutsoukis, A. (2014). Global wealth report 2014. Zurich: Credit Suisse Research Institute (CSRI)., October, 64.

Suisse, C. (2019). Global Wealth report 2019. Global Wealth Report 2019, by Suisse Group, Credit AG, October, 37–42.

Yang, Y., & Greaney, T. M. (2017). Economic Growth and Income Inequality in the Asia-Pacific Region: A Comparative Study of China, Japan, South Korea, and the United States. Journal of Asian Economics, 48, 6–22.

Zafirovski, M. (2019). Exploitation In Contemporary Societies: An Exploratory Comparative Analysis. The Social Science Journal, 56(4), 565–587.