Press Release Health and Social Programs Inequality

Squid Games Invites Comparisons to Inequities, Economic and Social, in US


10/27/2021 12:00am

Contact: KL Conner, 202-281-4159Mail_Outline

Washington DC ― The popular television show from South Korea is spawning metaphors and comparisons across the media landscape. A new article from the Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR) points to areas where the US could learn from South Korea’s progress toward minimizing some social and economic inequities.

CEPR researchers Algernon Austin and Tamara Sokolowsky weave together six graphs to illustrate that the United States has more inequality than South Korea by several economic and social measures. 

  • The gap between rich and poor is larger in the United States.
  • Child poverty in the US is almost three times what it is in South Korea.
  • In 2018, South Korea spent 1.2 percent of its GDP on family benefits. Only half that share was spent in the US. 
  • The tax corporations pay on profits in the US is a meager 0.96 percent of GDP, compared to South Korea where corporate taxes account for 4.3 percent of GDP.
  • The number of women reporting abuse from a domestic partner in a lifetime is higher in the US than in South Korea. 
  • South Korean workers have more labor protections than workers in the US. As of 2018, the percentage of workers in South Korea with the right to bargain was 14.8 percent, but only 11.7 percent in the US.

“South Korea is an extremely unequal country, but at the same time, it has taken significant concrete steps to reduce inequalities, especially when it comes to families and children. The United States could learn from this,” said co-author and CEPR director of race and economic justice, Algernon Austin.

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