Educational Expansion and Directions for Human Resources Development Policy
||Jung Jin Hwa
This study intends to analyze the causes and economic outcomes of ed
ucational expansion in Korea, focusing on a huge expansion of higher education
centering around the early 1980s.
Due to the fast and continuing expansion in educational investment for the last
half century since its liberalization, Korea is now ranked as one of the top co
untries of high educational attainment. Human capital accumulation from educati
onal investment has been one of the prime sources for higher income and quality
of life for both the individual beneficiaries of education and the society as a
However, the huge educational expansion occurring in the early 1980s was heavil
y weighted in the humanities rather than science and engineering, and was quant
ity rather than quality oriented. These factors resulted in the unproductive
escalation of educational attainment and worsened the imbalance of manpower
and and supply. The structural changes in the labor market caused the substanti
al decline in the private economic returns to college education.
From a social perspective, the educational explosion of the early 1980s was pro
blematic. The overall excess supply of college graduates aggravated their unemp
loyment, with the employment rate of fresh minted college graduates plummeting
in the mid 1980s and remaining at low levels to date. The vocational and techn
ical education dwindled, causing a serious labor shortage of production workers
. A large group of youngsters who failed to enter college are yet unemployed, b
e it voluntarily or involuntarily. These are all indications of the continued i
nefficiency in the utilization of human resources.
Although college education had served as a prime means for individuals to secur
e better jobs and higher earnings until the early 1980s, the private economic r
eturns to college education have since sharply declined.