Category Archives: Uncategorized

Historical Statistics of Korea

edited by

Myung Soo Cha, Nak Nyeon Kim, Kijoo Park, and Yitaek Park

Forthcoming from Springer Publishing

Table of Contents

A. Environment and Geography

B. Population

C. Labor Force and Employment

D. Wages

E. Education

F. Health

G. Agriculure

H. Natural Resources

I. Construction and Housing

J. Manufacturing

K. Distribution

L. Transportation and Communication

M. Service Industry and Public Utilities

N. National Income

O. Prices

P. Capital and Wealth

Q. Science and Technology

R. Business Organization

S. Monetary and Financial System

T. Public Sector

U. Law and Order

V. International Trade and Exchange Rates


Living Standards, Inequality, and Human Development since 1870: A Review of Evidence

co-authored with Leandro Prados de la Escosura

forthcoming as ch. 16, vol. 2, The Cambridge Economic History of the Modern World, eds. Stephen Broadberry and Kyoji Fukao

Does Confucianism Block Growth? Evidence from Late Imperial, Republican, and Communist China

paper presented at APEBH/All-UC Conference at Caltech, February 8-9, 2019

While Confucianism has been criticized as deterring growth until the occurrence of the East Asian growth miracle, this paper constructs and analyzes a county level dataset to find that Confucian learning helped China develop before and after 1911. Cross section regressions using an extensive set of controls show that counties making greater investment in Confucian education, hence achieving greater civil examination success reached higher levels of urbanization in 1920. Evidence is also presented of counties with greater legacy of Confucian scholarship suffering less from the Great Leap Forward famine and of the Cultural Revolution. The achievement in civil examination was positively correlated with the level of literacy and per capita output, but negatively with fertility in 1982. Per capita nighttime light emission grew faster from 1993-2010 in counties generating a larger number of civil examination passers.

The Consequences of the Post-Colonial Land Redistribution for the Democratic Transition in South Korea


work in progress


Land inequality tends to be viewed as inimical to democratic outcomes, either because it is usually associated with unequal distribution of social power, or because the immobility and specificity of landed assets imply landowners losing more from higher taxation under democracy than the owners of human and physical capital. The release from Japanese rule in 1945 triggered massive land redistribution in South Korea, which culminated in the legislation of the Land Reform Law three years later. This paper analyzes county-level outcome of the presidential elections to show that the post-colonial land redistribution promoted democratic transition by weakening social inequality, rather than by reducing the concentration of landownership.

Do Contraceptives Cause Fertility Transition? Evidence from Korea

Available fromĀ SSRN

As the total fertility rate fell from 6.0 to 1.6 from 1960-90, the South Korean government implemented a family planning program focusing on the distribution of contraceptives. While the concurrence has been interpreted as evidence of the public provision of fertility control devices lowering fertility, the causal link has yet to be established controlling for the covariates of fertility. Constructing and analyzing panel data sets, this paper finds that the fertility transition was driven predominantly by per capita output growth, with vasectomy, together with financial development, rising population density, and the public provision of secondary schooling, playing supporting roles.

Bad and Good Inequality in the Advance of the Korean Literacy

Available fromĀ SSRN

This paper identifies two distinct types of inequality affecting the advance of the Korean literacy in opposite ways. Literacy improvement in colonial Korea was checked by the presence of landed elite with pre-colonial origin, but helped by the development of profit-seeking land tenancy associated with contractual formalization. Abolishing both the aristocratic and market-oriented landlordism, the post-colonial land redistribution accelerated the advance of literacy by destroying the structural inequality, rather than by reducing the market inequality. It is thus important for policymakers to identify the nature of inequality they face before embarking on redistribution.

What Did Civil Examination Do for Korea?

with Junseok Hwang and Heejin Park

to be presented at the 8th World Congress of Cliometrics, 4-7 July, Strasbourg, France

Naksungdae Institute of Economic Research Working Paper 2016-5

We analyze the records of individuals climbing the bureaucratic ladder of pre-colonial Korea to find that civil examination, theoretically driven by meritocracy, served to support, rather than weaken, status order. The affirmative action taken by the monarch to stabilize regime was more than countered by elite countermeasures. Correlations between civil examination success on the one hand and literacy and the diffusion of improved rice seeds in colonial Korea on the other suggest that civil examination stifled human capital accumulation and technological progress by supporting elite dominance. The origins of neither the growth miracle nor democratic transition South Korea achieved can be traced back to pre-colonial era.