Marital Status and Life Satisfaction under Economic Hardships: The Case of South Korea since the 1997 Asian Financial Crisis

Sun-Jae Hwang, University of Michigan

Numerous studies have attested various benefits of marriage on physical and emotional personal well-being: Married people live longer and generally are more emotionally and physically healthy than the unmarried. Does this ‘marriage premium,’ however, also remain unchallenged during the period of severe economic hardships? How does the supposedly protective effect of marriage respond to various internal and external stresses generated from the unfavorable economic conditions? Using the case of South Korea since the 1997 Asian Financial Crisis, this study investigates how the relationship between marital status and the level of individual life satisfaction, which is another important measure of subjective personal well-being, has changed over the last decade of socioeconomic turbulence. The results of multilevel analysis, which capitalizes on the repeated observations of the Korea Labor and Income Panel Study, provides another empirical support for marriage protection hypothesis, effectively controlling for individual’s unobserved heterogeneity and other confounding factors.

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Presented in Poster Session 5