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(LEAD) Employment of educated Korean women lowest among OECD countries

All News 17:22 June 30, 2010

(ATTN: ADDS analysis by researcher in paras 5-7)

SEOUL, June 30 (Yonhap) -- Korean women with college degrees are far less likely to get jobs than their counterparts in other developed countries, with nearly four out of 10 staying unemployed, data suggested Wednesday.

According to data from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), released by the Korean Women's Development Institute in Seoul, the employment rate for Korean women aged between 25 and 64 with college degrees stood at 61.2 percent, the lowest among the OECD member countries.

The OECD average was 79.5 percent. Norway at 88.8 percent was the most open labor market for educated women, followed by Sweden with 88 percent and Britain with 85.8 percent. Japan at 66.1 percent and Turkey at 63.5 percent were among the least available job markets for women. The data was filed from observations in 2007.

Korea also ranked lowest in a similar survey in 1997, with 57.4 percent.

Researchers cited the challenge of returning to work after maternity leave. The women's employment rate was particularly low among those in their early 30s.

"Many women choose to become full-time mothers because it's difficult to find as good jobs as before after taking the leave of absence," Jeon Ki-taek, a statistics researcher at the institute, said.

He also pointed out society's insufficient support and gender inequalities in child rearing. The country's birth rate is the world's lowest, with 1.22 children per woman on average, less than half the world's rate, 2.54, according to the 2009 report by the United Nations Population Fund.

For women in all ages, Korea's employment rate was 52.2 percent in the latest survey, far less than the OECD average at 77.2 percent.

The workplace pay gap between Korean men and women was also the highest among the OECD countries, with female workers getting paid 38 percent less than their male colleagues.

But Korea had the lowest death rates from breast cancer. Out of every 100,000 people, 5.8 Korean women died of breast cancer, the lowest among the OECD countries, which averaged 20.8 people. Still, the OECD average has been slowly decreasing, dropping by 4.5 persons over the past 10 years, while Korea's rate has risen by 1.3 persons from 4.5 in 1995.

Korean women's death rate for cervical cancer was 4.3 in 2005, higher than the OECD average of 3.


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