Thursday, May 27, 2010


IWS Documented News Service
Institute for Workplace Studies----------------- Professor Samuel B. Bacharach
School of Industrial & Labor Relations-------- Director, Institute for Workplace Studies
Cornell University
16 East 34th Street, 4th floor----------------------
Stuart Basefsky
New York, NY 10016 -------------------------------Director, IWS News Bureau


Korea Labor Institute (KLI)


e-Labor News No. 97

Issue paper

Evaluation of Korea's Activation Policy and Direction for Development

Deok Soon Hwang∗∗

[full-text, 39 pages]



This paper reviews the significance to Korea of activation policies that have recently

been adopted around the world and investigates what conditions are required if such policies are

to be implemented effectively in Korea.


Many aspects of Korea's unemployment-benefit system resemble those of an activation

policy. Among these, the requirement that unemployment-benefit recipients register as a

job-seeker, the use of profiling systems to categorize recipients and individual action plans (IAP),

and the obligation of recipients to periodically visit public employment-service agencies and

engage in job-seeking activities show Korea to be applying stronger activation policies than other

OECD countries. One exception is the fact that unlike other OECD countries, Korea does not

have a system that forces recipients to participate in active labor market programs when they

receive unemployment benefits for a certain period (OECD, 2007).


Paradoxically, it is difficult to conclude that Korea's unemployment-benefit system does

in fact contribute to the activation of unemployed workers. This paper seeks to investigate why

such inconsistencies occur as well as the possibility and conditions for successful activation

policies in Korea, with a focus on the implementation process and delivery systems for

employment services.


The organization of this paper is as follows. First, it examines the concept of activation

policies. It is necessary to clarify the concept of activation policies used in this paper because a

multidimensional approach that covers not only specific programs but also changes in the

ideological goals of a welfare state is possible. Next, the paper looks at the key characteristics of

the Korean labor market and their significance from the viewpoint of activation. The paper then

discusses the characteristics of key welfare programs and labor market policies that can be

viewed in relation to activation policies. Next, it examines how Korea's current

employment-support services can be evaluated from the viewpoint of activation policies by

focusing on employment-service delivery systems. Finally, the results of the study are put

together to discuss the possibility and conditions for the success of activation policies in Korea.


* This paper was originally presented at the seminar "Activation Policies and the Performance of Employment Services," organized by the Korea Ministry of Labor and the OECD, in cooperation with the Korea Labor Institute, in Seoul in November 4, 2009.

** Senior Research Fellow, Korea Labor Institute (Email:


This information is provided to subscribers, friends, faculty, students and alumni of the School of Industrial & Labor Relations (ILR). It is a service of the Institute for Workplace Studies (IWS) in New York City. Stuart Basefsky is responsible for the selection of the contents which is intended to keep researchers, companies, workers, and governments aware of the latest information related to ILR disciplines as it becomes available for the purposes of research, understanding and debate. The content does not reflect the opinions or positions of Cornell University, the School of Industrial & Labor Relations, or that of Mr. Basefsky and should not be construed as such. The service is unique in that it provides the original source documentation, via links, behind the news and research of the day. Use of the information provided is unrestricted. However, it is requested that users acknowledge that the information was found via the IWS Documented News Service.

Stuart Basefsky                   
Director, IWS News Bureau                
Institute for Workplace Studies 
Cornell/ILR School                        
16 E. 34th Street, 4th Floor             
New York, NY 10016                        
Telephone: (607) 255-2703                
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