Seoul Journal of Economics
[ Article ]
Seoul Journal of Economics - Vol. 35, No. 1, pp.1-31
ISSN: 1225-0279 (Print)
Print publication date 28 Feb 2022
Received 20 Nov 2021 Accepted 31 Jan 2022

Generation Uphill: Housing Cost, Migration, and Commuting Time of the Young in South Korea

Chulhee Lee ; Elliot Kang
Chulhee Lee, Professor, Department of Economics, Seoul National University, Tel: 82-2-880-6396
Elliot Kang, Ph.D. Candidate, Department of Economics, University of Michigan

JEL Classification: R23; R21; R31


This study investigates how an increase in housing cost during a major real estate boom affected migration decisions of workers in South Korean cities. We also examine how geographic relocation driven by increased housing price changed the commuting time and distance of migrants. We used 10% samples of micro censuses and found that increases in housing costs in a district are positively associated with the probability of migration out of the district. The effect of increased housing price is significantly larger for the young than for those aged 40 years and above. We also found that migrations driven by increased housing expenses increased commuting time and distance, particularly for young movers. Our results suggest that “forced migrations” driven by housing booms can intensify mismatch between workers (places with affordable housing) and jobs (workplace).


Migration, Commuting time, Housing cost, Locational mismatch


We have benefited from the beneficial comments of an anonymous referee, and the participants of the Symposium on Issues of Millennial Generation at National Chengchi University in Taiwan and Korea’s Allied Economic Associations Annual Meeting. Lee’s research was supported by the Research Grant of the Center for Distributive Justice of the Institute of Economic Research, Seoul National University.


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