New Publication Examines the Impact of Poverty Alleviation on Social Investment in South Korea

Hanna Wang
March 02, 2021

Income inequality in South Korea has increased during recent decades. As one of the nation’s primary poverty alleviation programs, the National Basic Livelihood Security System (NBLSS) has influenced many people’s lives. In 2015, the NBLSS underwent major reforms by changing the selection criteria and benefits. Did the NBLSS improve the living conditions and well-being of its beneficiaries prior to the reforms?

In a new study published in the Journal of Asian Public Policy, doctoral student Sam Han and Professor Qin Gao examined the effects of NBLSS participation on social investment through evaluating consumption patterns of low-income families in South Korea. They used the 2015 Korean Welfare Panel Study data and a regression discontinuity design to provide evidence from the pre-reform period.

The authors found that NBLSS participation was associated with increased spending on education, especially for households with elementary and junior high school students. NBLSS participation was found to decrease medical expenses for families with seniors, members with chronic diseases, and people with physical disabilities, most likely because NBLSS beneficiaries were eligible to receive in-kind healthcare services.

This new work calls on policymakers and practitioners to pay more attention to how cash and in-kind benefits work together to meet the multidimensional needs of low-income families.

Read the article: Does Poverty Alleviation Help Enhance Social Investment? The Case of South Korea

Columbia Affiliations
China Center for Social Policy