Pandemic and employment: Evidence from COVID-19 in South Korea

Jongkwan Lee, Hee Seung Yang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Using two complementary approaches, this study examines the deterioration of the Korean labor market during the first 10 months of the global COVID-19 pandemic. Applying the synthetic control method, we first find that the COVID-19 outbreak has eliminated 1.1 million jobs (4.2% of nonfarm employment) nationwide in April 2020. However, a difference-in-differences approach shows that local variation in COVID-19 intensity, which captures the “regional” effect of the pandemic, explains only 9% of the national shock. The portion of the regional effect remains low until December. This is mainly because the nationwide fear and policies such as social distancing measures also have a “common” effect on local economies. Our findings suggest that the COVID-19 shock may last long in the labor market due to this common effect unless the risk of infection is completely eliminated.

Original languageEnglish
Article number101432
JournalJournal of Asian Economics
StatePublished - Feb 2022


  • COVID-19
  • Difference-in-differences
  • Employment
  • Pandemic
  • South Korea
  • Synthetic control method


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