Since the financial crisis in Korea in 1997, income inequality has consistently been increasing and real estate price has soared. This has made it almost impossible for young people to buy their own houses. Nevertheless, young people are excluded from housing support measures. Therefore, many young people are living in precarious housing conditions. The expectation of not owning a house during their life and the lack of housing support measures caused young people to have little trust in Korean society and perceive greater inequality than other Korean generations. Thus, it is essential to deal with the housing exclusion, representing housing poverty and a poor housing environment. Hence, we examined the association between housing exclusion, perceived income inequality, and confidence in society among Korean young adults.
Data and sample: A proportional sample of 2,808 Korean young adults aged 19-34 drawn from the Survey on the Living Conditions and Welfare Needs of Youths was analyzed.
Measures: Three independent variables were inserted to measure housing exclusion. First, an 8-item Likert scale was administered to measure residential conditions such as lightning, soundproofing, crime, fire prevention measures, etc. The higher the score, the poorer the housing condition. The internal consistency of the scale was Cronbach's α= .897. Second, a 2-item Likert scale was inserted to measure experiences of difficulty in maintaining heating and cooling(H/C) due to financial difficulties. Third, house type, a categorical variable, was included. The first dependent variable was perceived income inequality, measured with a single item scored from 0 to 10 (i.e., a higher score reflects greater perceived income inequality). The second dependent variable was confidence in Korean society, measured similarly (i.e., a higher score reflects greater confidence in society). Gender, age, employment status, education level, number of household members, living in the metropolitan area, and income were also included as covariates.
Data analysis: To examine the association between housing exclusion, perceived income inequality, and confidence in society, a set of multiple regressions were performed using Stata 16 IC.
Korean young people with poor residential conditions were more likely to have lower confidence in society (β = -.088, p=.000). Young adults who had difficulty maintaining H/C due to financial difficulties showed higher perceived income inequality (β = .0296, p =.006) and lower confidence in the society (β = -.064, p =.001). House type was not statistically related to both confidence in society and perceived income inequality.
Findings suggest housing exclusion is related to social confidence and perceived income inequality among Korean young people. Living in precarious housing conditions and having difficulty maintaining H/C due to financial hardships make young people perceive greater income inequality and less confidence in society. The Korean government should address interventive measures to improve the residential conditions and provide financial support to preserve a decent residential environment for young people.