Labor Status of Old age: Lifetime Career and Wealth as Mediators

노후 노동지위: 생애노동경력과 재산을 매개로

  • Ji, Eun-Jeong (Social Welfare Research Institute at Seoul National University)
  • 지은정 (서울대학교 사회복지연구소)
  • Received : 2008.12.28
  • Accepted : 2009.02.06
  • Published : 2009.02.28


This study illuminates the mechanism of life course on labor status of old age complementing the limits of labor status hypothesis of old age and model of statues attainment and combining them. The main results from this analysis are summarized in four points. Firstly, older men mostly engaged in agriculture, forestry and fishing industry or low-class occupations. A very small portion held high level or professional occupations. Regular full-time employees or employers were only 4.4% while, about 70% of older employees were temporal employees or self-employed. This shows that the elderly affluence hypothesis which alleges that most older men maintain high level occupations, applies to only a few. The second finding is that wealth differentials are sizable: about 20% of older workers own less than 50 million won, while 9.3% possess more than 600 million won. Therefore, it is not safe to claim that most people have accumulated enough wealth for old age according to the elderly affluence hypothesis. This gap being mainly reflected by education level, suggests that the model of status attainment is appropriate as wealth accumulation hypothesis. Thirdly, educational level determined not only lifetime careers, but also labor status of old age. Fourthly, using path analysis, the last finding is that education had effect on labor status of old age through lifetime career and wealth. That is, old men who have low education level had unstable lifetime career and own less wealth. They work in low income job, low social occupations and unstable occupation type in old age. This shows that life inequality continues until old age. Therefore, the inequality of education opportunity, spread of part-time work and small scale self employees should be discouraged. Furthermore, related policy should be provided in order to prevent being caught in unstable work.


the elderly men;lifetime career;labor status of old age;model of statues attainment;life-cycle hypothesis;the elderly affluence hypothesis;path analysis