Perceived discrimination and self-rated health in South Korea: A nationally representative survey

Seung-Sup Kim, David R. Williams

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

30 Citations (Scopus)


Background: There is mounting evidence that discriminatory experiences can harm health. However, previous research has mainly focused on the health effects of racial discrimination in U.S. or European countries although there is pervasive discrimination by gender, age, education and other factors in Asian countries. Methods: We analyzed the data from the 7th wave of Korean Labor and Income Panel Study to investigate the association between perceived discriminatory experience and poor self-rated health in South Korea. Perceived discriminatory experiences were measured in eight situations through a modified Experience of Discrimination questionnaire. In each of eight situations, the lifetime prevalence of perceived discriminatory experience was compared between men and women and the main causes of those experiences were identified separately by gender. After adjusting for potential confounders, we examined the association between perceived discriminatory experience and poor self-rated health in each of eight social situations and also checked the association using the number of situations of perceived discriminatory experiences. Results: For both men and women, education level and age were the main sources of work-related perceived discriminatory experiences. Gender was one of the main causes among women across eight situations and more than 90% of women reported their gender as a main cause of discriminatory experience in getting higher education and at home. Discriminatory experiences in four situations were positively associated with poor self-rated health. The odds ratio for poor self-rated health for those exposed to one, two, three or four or more social situations of perceived discrimination were respectively 1.06 (95% CI: 0.87-1.29), 1.15 (95% CI: 0.96-1.55), 1.59 (95% CI: 1.19-2.14), and 1.78 (95% CI: 1.26-2.51). Conclusion: There is consistent association between perceived discriminatory experience and poor self-rated health across eight social situations in South Korea.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere30501
JournalPLoS One
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2012 Jan 17
Externally publishedYes


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Medicine(all)

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