Correlation between private education costs and parental depression in South Korea

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Background: In Korea, higher education has rapidly grown influenced by sociocultural tradition. Parents invest a significant portion of their household income in their children's education. Private education has been considered to greatly affect students' psychology and behavior. However, past research has largely neglected to study parents who pay these costs. Since household income and education level are important determinants of socioeconomic status (SES), education expenditures are likely to cause depressive symptoms. Therefore, the study aimed to investigate the correlation between private education costs and parental depression in South Korea. Methods: Data were collected from the Korean Welfare Panel Study (KoWePS, 2015, 2018). The sample analyzed consisted of 397 and 337 fathers and 403 and 370 mothers in 2015 and 2018, respectively. The independent variable in this study was the proportion of private education cost. This proportion was calculated by dividing each household's private education costs by its equivalized household disposable income (EHDI) and multiplying this number by 100. The main dependent variable was parental responses to the Center for Epidemiologic Studies Depression Scale-11 (CESD-11). Using a generalized linear model, we investigated the effects of the proportion of private education cost on parental depression. Results: The results showed that fathers with higher proportions of private education cost exhibited higher CESD-11 scores compared to fathers with lower proportions cost (moderate: β = 0.419, S. E = 0.164, p = 0.0105; high: β = 0.476, S. E = 0.178, p = 0.0076), indicating that a higher ratio of private education cost may negatively affect depression in fathers. However, there was no discernable correlation between mothers' CESD-11 scores and the proportion of private education cost (moderate: β = - 0.078, S. E = 0.250, p = 0.7555; high: β = 0.003, S. E = 0.215, p = 0.9882). Conclusions: These results may be explained by the tendency for fathers to experience greater economic burdens than mothers in patriarchal Korean society.




Oh, B. C., Yeon, J. Y., Lee, H. S., Lee, D. W., & Park, E. C. (2020). Correlation between private education costs and parental depression in South Korea. BMC Public Health, 20(1).

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