Methods: This study used data from 4,705 of the over 10,000 people in the Korean Longitudinal Study of Aging (KLoSA), Wave 1 collected in 2006. This is a nationally representative sample of people aged 45 and over living in households in South Korea. Logistic regression was used. The dependent variables were marriage and childlessness, and the independent variables were education, employment, income, and gender. Control variables were age, disability, region, and religion. To test the moderation effect of gender on socioeconomic variables, interaction terms between education, employment, or income and gender were used.
Results: The results showed that, for men, education and employment were significantly positively associated with having ever been married (p<0.01 for both education and employment), whereas for women, education had a significant association in a negative direction (p<0.01). Gender had a significant moderation effect on the impact of education on having ever been married (p<0.01). For men, education, employment, and income were significantly positively associated having a child/children (p<0.01 for education, employment and income), whereas no significant association was found among women.
Implications: Similar to other developed countries, how SES is associated with childlessness is different by gender in South Korea. Also, there are clear gender differences in how SES variables are associated with marriage. Men who have difficulty bearing the normative expectation of financial responsibility of fatherhood tend not to have children in South Korea. Alleviating the financial burden of fatherhood could be beneficial for promoting fertility. One way to reduce men’s financial burden is to share the responsibility with women, which would require making female labor force participation more manageable.