Work in Progress

Is Employment Protection Legislation Actually ‘Protective’? Evidence from South Korean Labor Market

Similar to labor markets in France, Mexico and Japan, salary workers in South Korea are largely divided into the informal and formal sectors. Formal workers benefit from permanent contracts with insurance coverage and non-salary compensation, whereas workers with informal status have non-permanent contracts ranging from days to years and are mostly not entitled to benefits. In 2007 the Korean government implemented an employment protection legislation (EPL) to improve the working conditions of informal workers, but the effectiveness of the EPL has not been sufficiently assessed. This paper uses a three-state on-the-job search model to estimate the hazard rates of workers in informal positions and quantify the effects of the EPL on worker transitions from informal to formal work, and moreover on the initial selection of workers into different sectors.

Deaths of Despair in the U.S. and Relative Income

Over the last decade, the United States has witnessed an increase in deaths from suicide, alcohol poisoning, and drug addiction among its less-educated, non-Hispanic white population. Prior research has denoted this phenomenon as deaths of despair and pointed to a diverse set of factors as possible underlying causes, from economic insecurity to trade shocks. I investigate one of these possible explanations, the relative decrease in the income of non-Hispanic white males as compared to their peers; both inside and outside the family. First, I compare changes in income across racial groups by age to account for any changes in non-Hispanic white males’ racial status over 2006 to 2016. I also analyze changes in non-Hispanic white male income relative to familial income in order to study their within-family status over the same period. Using data at the constant public use microdata area (CPUMA) and county level, I find no significant effect of relative income on increasing deaths of despair. Results on other regional factors suggest the need for a disaggregated analysis on deaths of despair by age and regional characteristics.

Past Work

The Patterns of Korea's Foreign Direct Investment in Vietnam (coauthored with Professor Jai Sheen Mah)

The Vietnamese economy has shown very rapid economic growth since Doi Moi, with a huge amount of foreign direct investment (FDI) inflows. Among them, Korea’s outward FDI (OFDI) in Vietnam deserves more attention as the leading investor. This paper reveals the patterns of Korea’s OFDI in Vietnam. The pre-eminence of Korean FDI in Vietnam was the consequence of multiple events, including the coinciding efforts of both governments to promote FDI and Vietnam’s provision of an alternative to China in the manufacturing sector. Korean firms have contributed to economic growth, employment generation and technology transfers in Vietnam. Vietnam can enhance the FDI inflows by overcoming the remaining instabilities in its economy, strengthening the level of human capital and sustaining its investor-friendly policies.