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Perception of social mobility in South Korea

Bongoh Kye (Kookmin University)

This study examines perception of intergenerational mobility in South Korea. Previous studies have shown the existence of discrepancy between reality and perception of intergenerational mobility; people tend to exaggerate the intergenerational persistence of socioeconomic status such as income and occupation. Measurement errors as well as real difference may explain such exaggeration. In this study, I utilized an innovative survey instrument developed by Cheng and Wen (2019) to measure perception of social mobility. I found the followings. First, there is substantial discrepancy between reality and perception of intergenerational income mobility. Similar to the American pattern (Cheng and Wen 2019), the rank-rank slope of income mobility was steeper in perception than reality. Second, people particularly over-evaluate intergenerational persistence of income ranks at the bottom and the top of the distribution. Third, perceived rank-rank slopes of income differ by age groups, occupations, and subjective classes. The implications of discrepancy between reality and perception of intergenerational mobility and differential rank-rank slopes are discussed.

Bongoh Kye is an associate professor of Sociology at Kookmin University. Before joining Kookmin University, he was a Frank H.T. Rhodes postdoctoral fellow of Cornell Population Center at Cornell University. He completed his Ph.D. in Sociology at University of California – Los Angeles. His area of expertise includes social mobility, population aging, family changes, and historical demography. His works have been published to peer-reviewed journals such as Social Science Research, Social Stratification and Mobility, Demographic Research, Population Research and Policy Review, and The History of the Family.

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