Year of Publication
Martin School of Public Policy and Administration
In South Korea, as of 2013, ten out of a hundred newlywed couples included a marriage immigrant, i.e. someone who came to the country for the purpose of getting married to a native (Statistics Korea). South Korea, a traditionally homogeneous society, has seen an increase in marriage immigrants, primarily women, in recent years. Multicultural families face a variety of challenges. Marriage immigrants experience cultural and lifestyle differences, language problems, poverty, and domestic violence. In 2011, the divorce rate in multicultural families reached 10 percent and the average length of a marriage that ended in divorce was 4.9 years (Statistics Korea). High divorce rates in marriage immigrant families not only have a negative effect on divorced couples and their family members, they also play a role in dismantling social integration.
This study examines the factors that lead to high divorce rates of marriage immigrants. The divorce factors vary. Through a review of the available literature, I chose multiple variables: immigrant's age at marriage, couple's age gap, immigrant's education level, Korean proficiency, geographical area, job, spouse's job stability, household monthly income, couple's previous marriages, length of marriage, whether or not the couple has children, and domestic violence.
To determine the effect of these variables on the divorce rates of marriage immigrants, the dataset includes both marriage immigrants who are already divorced and those who are still married. This data was obtained from Korea Immigration Service in 2014. I used a logistic regression model to analyze the data. I found five variables to predict the probability of divorce: domestic violence, Korean proficiency, geographical area, employment, and household monthly income. Out of these variables, domestic violence has an indisputable impact on the divorce of marriage immigrants.
Based on the results, I recommend the authorities play a supportive role in curbing the dissolution of multicultural families. The Korean language education that marriage immigrants voluntarily participate in should become a compulsory course. Local communities, especially in urban areas, should pay attention and support marriage immigrants in the early stages of marriage. Self-sufficiency programs like job training and employment counseling should be provided to marriage immigrants without a job and low household income. Lastly, domestic violence support programs, such as a legal clinic offering advice to marriage immigrants, a program for developing and educating communication skills among Korean males, and a program for family counseling for husbands and wives, should be expanded to reduce couple conflict and improve conjugal relations.
Kim, Sanghee, "Divorces of Marriage Immigrants in South Korea: An Examination of Factors Affecting Divorce" (2015). MPA/MPP Capstone Projects. 231.