Education and Inclusive Growth – Korean Experience

44 Pages Posted: 12 Dec 2015

See all articles by Sung Joon Paik

Sung Joon Paik

KDI School of Public Policy and Management

Date Written: December 1, 2015


The Korean education system has developed very rapidly in both quantitative and qualitative terms since the 1950s and made considerable contribution to inclusive growth in Korea. In what ways has the Korean education system played a positive role in approaching the inclusive growth in Korea? Considering that the fundamental theme of the inclusive growth is to guarantee equal opportunity, this paper analyzes key educational policies and their results in terms of (1) equal access to education, (2) equal educational treatment, and (3) equal educational outcomes. Key questions and findings are as follows: What policies has Korea adopted to increase access to education and to provide equal educational services? After the Korean War, Korea adopted sequential educational expansion policies to provide educational opportunities step by step (universalization of primary education→middle school→high school→higher education). What investment strategies has Korea used to support the implementation of those policies? In order to support educational expansion policies, the Korean government maintained its commitment to educational investment by shifting its investment priority in the same sequential manner from primary education to higher education. To secure the budget needed the government utilized private contributions from private foundations and parents. What education policies has Korea used to meet manpower demand? Korea’s sequential education expansion policies were matched with national economic development plans. As a result, education could contribute to supplying manpower needed and school graduates could have get employed, which led to the increase in personal earnings. What are main results? Korea’s educational development policies resulted in the provision of equal education access irrespective of gender, geographical location and parents’ SES, highest PISA scores with smallest variance and lower expenditure, and lower labor earnings inequality.

Keywords: inclusive growth, equal access to education, educational expansion, investment strategy, manpower demand, economic development

Suggested Citation

Paik, Sung Joon, Education and Inclusive Growth – Korean Experience (December 1, 2015). KDI School of Pub Policy & Management Paper No. 15-09, Available at SSRN: or

Sung Joon Paik (Contact Author)

KDI School of Public Policy and Management ( email )

P.O. Box 184
Seoul, 130-868
Korea, Republic of (South Korea)

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