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Legal Entitlement And Empowerment Of Marriage Immigrants In Korea

Hanol Lee () and Dainn Wie

Feminist Economics, 2020, vol. 26, issue 3, 90-118

Abstract: The share of marriages between South Korean men and immigrant women from other Asian countries has increased sharply since 1990, representing approximately 8 percent of all new marriages in Korea in 2009. This study employs 2009 census data on these women to investigate the impact of the acquisition of Korean nationality on their empowerment in their households and community. It employs a fuzzy regression kink design that exploits two-year conditional residence as an instrumental variable for nationality acquisition. Results show that marriage immigrants’ legal entitlement lowers the likelihood that they live with their mother-in-law. Reported difficulties in their relationships with their parents-in-law also improve. Having stable legal status lowers their experience of discrimination in general. However, the findings do not reveal that legal entitlement increases their access to household resources, increases their probability of separating from their Korean spouse, or encourages them to raise their political voices in the community.HIGHLIGHTS “Marriage immigrants,” women who migrate from developing countries in Asia to marry Korean men, have low levels of empowerment in their households and face discrimination in their communities.Nationality acquisition improves marriage immigrants' statuses in some ways but is not related to improved household-bargaining positions.Marriage immigrants with vulnerable legal statuses should be provided with supplementary legal and educational support for their assimilation into society.Empowering marriage immigrants is vital to the developmental outcomes of the second generation, especially in terms of health and education.

Date: 2020
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DOI: 10.1080/13545701.2020.1718174

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