The purpose of this study is to assess the status of adolescents’ career development in the Gangnam District in Seoul, South Korea. In particular, the study examined how income gaps between Local Living Zones within the Gangnam district affected the career development of adolescents. The Gangnam district is one of the 25 local government districts which make up the city of Seoul, South Korea. The Seoul Metropolitan Government announced "2030 Seoul Living Zone Plan." The Living Zone refers to the range of space where daily life activities of residents occur. According to this plan, the Gangnam district can be divided by six Local Living Zones. The levels of wealth and community resources significantly differ by the Zones in Gangnam.
The Gangnam district is widely known for its heavily concentrated wealth and very high standard of living. While Gangnam is famous for its wealthy neighborhood, income inequality between communities in Gangnam has been increased over time. Social service agencies has recognized the problem of spatial concentration of poverty in Gangnam. Previous studies consistently found that the sense of relative deprivation negatively affected youth development. Therefore, understanding how the gap in resources between communities affects the social relationships of adolescents and their career maturity is essential for the development of social services addressing social inequality. The study hypothesized that parent-child relationships and levels of community engagement differed by the Local Life Zones, and therefore, the career maturity levels of adolescents varied depending on where they live.
This study utilized the data collected by the Youth Welfare Council of Gangnam. Data were collected from 946 middle and high school students who lived in the Gangam district. The survey was conducted from July 1st to August 30 in 2019. The Gangnam Youth Survey contained information about family background, school life, career preparation, social and emotional development, and community engagement.
Respondents were divided into six Local Living Zones based on where they lived. The study evaluated the differences in key variables between the zones using ANOVA and chi-square tests. In addition, OLS regression analysis was applied to assess the associations between variables.
Adolescents living in wealthy communities were more likely to experience positive parenting and report a high level of the sense of community than those from communities with low income and high poverty rate. In addition, levels of career maturity differed by their living zones. Adolescents living in affluent communities reported higher levels of career maturity than those living in community with a higher poverty rate. The result of regression analysis suggested that differences in youth career maturity by the living zones were partially explained by their relationships with parents and neighbors.
The study suggests that the area of residence is not just geographic location. It is related to the quality of social relationships, which is a significant factor of youth development. Therefore, social services that promote positive relationships with parents and strengthen the social cohesion of communities would help underprivileged youth to improve their career maturity.