Divorce in Korea: Trends and Educational Differentials


  • Department of Sociology, 1180 Observatory Drive, University of Wisconsin, Madison, WI 53706.

  • This article was edited by Jay Teachman.

Department of Sociology, University of Pennsylvania, 3718 Locust Walk, Philadelphia, PA 19104 (hypark@sas.upenn.edu).


The authors extend comparative research on educational differences in divorce by analyzing data from Korea. A primary motivation was to assess whether the theoretically unexpected negative educational gradient in divorce in Japan is also observed in Korea. Using vital statistics records for marriages and divorces registered between 1991 and 2006, the authors calculated cumulative probabilities of divorce, by marriage cohort (N = 5,734,577) and educational attainment. The results indicated that the relationship between education and divorce was negative even in the earliest cohort and that this negative gradient has become more pronounced in more recent cohorts. Contrary to expectations, however, little evidence was found that the concentration of divorce at lower levels of education was exacerbated by the Asian economic crisis in the late 1990s. The authors discuss these findings in light of conventional emphases on the costs of divorce and highlight the importance of better understanding this distinctive east Asia pattern of divorce.