Title: Policy dissonance and the challenges of managing the impacts of South Korea's industrial and demographic transition through immigration

Authors: Ador R. Torneo; Seung-Bum Yang

Addresses: Political Science Department, De La Salle University, 2401 Taft Avenue, Malate, Manila 0922, Philippines ' Department of Public Administration, Konkuk University, 120 Neungdong-ro, Gwangjin-gu, Seoul 143-701, Korea

Abstract: This paper discusses how South Korea is increasingly, albeit reluctantly, relying on immigration to address the consequences of its industrial transformation which include, among others, low birth rate, a rapidly ageing population and labour shortages. It discusses how policy dissonance, the contradictions in government policies and the realities on the ground, produces mixed results which sometimes deviate from policy intentions. Specifically, the insistence on a restrictive anti-immigration regime in the face of increasing labour demands and unwillingness of domestic workers to take up low-paying jobs result in the twin problems of persistent undocumented immigration and increasing labour shortages. Likewise, the contradicting policy orientations of liberalisation and ethnicisation are also simultaneously being adopted into policies. Unless contradictions in policy intent and policy dissonance are addressed, policies will likely keep producing mixed results.

Keywords: policy dissonance; immigration; labour migration; migrant labour; labour policy; immigration policy; public policy; industrial transition; demographic transition; South Korea; industrial transformation; low birth rate; ageing population; labour shortages; liberalisation; ethnicisation.

DOI: 10.1504/IJTPM.2015.067786

International Journal of Technology, Policy and Management, 2015 Vol.15 No.1, pp.95 - 111

Received: 11 Mar 2014
Accepted: 10 May 2014

Published online: 05 Mar 2015 *

Full-text access for editors Full-text access for subscribers Purchase this article Comment on this article