Paul Y. Chang

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The Korean family, how it functions and what it looks like, has fundamentally changed over the course of the past decades. The traditional extended family model has given way to the nuclear family and its variants; and Korean society has become more diverse with inter-ethnic marriages more common now than ever before. These changes are not only complex but also carry profound implications for the Korean society.

To learn more about these societal dynamics, we met with Professor Paul Y. Chang. We talked about the demographic revolution that is currently taking place in Korea, how the government has tried to control the nation’s fertility rate since the middle of the 20th century and the challenges it now faces as a result of its past policies.

Professor Paul Y. Chang is Associate Professor of Sociology at Harvard University. He received his PhD in Sociology from Stanford University in 2008. Professor Chang has published several book chapters and articles in various academic journals, including Mobilization, Sociological Forum, Asian Perspectives and the Journal of Korean Studies. His current project focuses on the emergence of non-traditional family structures in South Korea, including single-parent households, single-person households, and multicultural families.

The expansion of higher education and women’s work opportunities has led to certain groups being less competitive in the marriage market, like lower-class men. Because of that, [these men] are either choosing to not marry at all, or cannot marry, or are choosing to start these multicultural families with brides from outside of Korea… So I think that these different types of family household are fundamentally related to each other and I want to show the specific mechanism that ties them together.

The interview was recorded on June 8th, 2018 in Cambridge, MA.