1997년 아시아 금융위기 이후 한국의 경제성장률과 내수증가율은 10년 넘게 현저한 감소세를 이어오고 있다. 본 보고서에서는 아시안 금융위기 이후 지속된 내수부진을 단기적 경기변동이 아닌 구조적인 현상으로 보고 국민계정의 지출 측면에 초점을 맞추어 그 원인을 규명하고자 하였다. 국민계정을 구성하고 있는 주요 변수들의 금융위기 전후 추세를 분석한 결과 수출의 내수 파급효과 부진 및 가계의 가처분소득 증가율 하락이 장기 내수부진의 구조적 원인으로 파악되었다.
본 연구는 먼저 수출의 내수 파급효과가 부진한 원인으로 한국 수출을 주도하였던 대기업들의 투자행태 변화를 지적하였다. 금융위기 이전 수출 기업의 지속적인 국내투자(설비투자, 신산업 창출을 위한 개발 투자 등)는 생산성 증가 및 고용 창출 등으로 이어져 내수 활성화의 원동력이 될 수 있었던 반면, 금융위기 이후 수출 기업의 해외투자(해외 설비투자 등) 증가 및 수입중간재 의존도 증가에 따른 국내 생산 및 고용의 감소를 내수부진의 주된 이유로 제시하고 있다. 아시아 금융위기 이후 장기 내수부진의 또 다른 원인으로 가계의 가처분소득 증가율 감소를 지적하였다. 가계의 소득 증가율 감소는 금융위기 이후에 나타난 노동시장의 구조변화(영세 자영업자, 비정규직, 중소기업 근로자의 비중 증가 및 상대적으로 낮은 소득)와 밀접하게 관련되어 있는 것으로 나타났다.
또한 1997년 아시아 금융위기 이후 대규모 구조조정으로 재취업하지 못한 자영업 가구와 임금근로 가구 사이에 소비행태의 차이를 발견하였다. 즉 임금근로자의 경우 금융부채와 소비지출 간 양(+)의 관계가 있는 반면, 자영업자의 경우 음(-)의 관계가 나타났다. 이는 사업자금 마련 등을 위한 대출로 커진 부채 부담이 자영업자의 소비를 제약하는 요인으로 작용함을 의미한다. 자영업자의 비중이 상대적으로 높은 한국의 경우 자영업 가구의 높은 부채비율이 소비제약으로 이어져 전체 소비지출에 부정적인 영향을 미치는 것으로 조사됐다. 마지막으로 비정규직 고용과 기업의 생산성 관계를 분석한 결과, 정규직 전환비율이 높을수록 기업의 생산성이 높은 것으로 나타났다. 장기적인 경제성장은 공급측면의 생산능력에 의해 결정되며 기업의 생산성을 제고하기 위한 정책 마련이 시급하다는 점에서 비정규직 고용이 기업 생산성에 미치는 효과에 대한 실증분석은 매우 의미 있는 시사점을 제공하고 있다.
아시아 금융위기 이후 지속되어져 온 장기 내수침체를 극복하기 위한 방안으로 수출기업의 국내투자 활성화 정책이 우선시 되어져야 한다. 또한 국내 중소기업이 글로벌 가치사슬에 적극적으로 참여할 수 있도록 기업 및 정부 차원의 노력이 필요하다: i) 외국인 기업의 국내 투자유치 활성화를 위한 규제개혁 등 정부차원의 노력, ii) 기술혁신 및 품질향상 등 기업의 자구적 노력. 마지막으로 내수시장 활성화를 위한 가계소득 증가 차원의 정책으로는 비정규직 및 영세 자영업자와 관련한 이슈들이 있다. 노동시장의 개혁을 통해 비정규직 비중을 낮추고 정규직 고용을 확대하는 정책이 우선시 되어져야 한다. 또한 은퇴한 근로자들의 인적자원을 효율적으로 활용할 수 있는 일자리 창출을 위해 노력할 필요가 있다. 이러한 정책은 장기적으로 영세 자영업자의 비중을 줄이고 동시에 소득수준을 높여주는 효과를 갖게 될 것이다.
Economic growth in Korea has slowed down dramatically after the Asian financial crisis of 1997. The average growth rate of real GDP of Korea before the crisis (1981-1996) was 9.3%, while it was reduced to 3.7% during the period (2003-2014) after the credit card lending boom following the financial crisis. Coincidently, the patterns of domestic demand growth before and after the crisis were similar to the GDP growth: the average growth rate of Korean real domestic demand was 8.8% and -0.3%, in the respective periods.
This remarkable decline in both growth rates should not be attributed to the factors that are linked to the short-run economic fluctuations because these phenomena have lasted more then 10 years after the Asian financial crisis. Instead, structural factors related to the domestic market or exports are more likely to induce the significant declines in the growth of these two variables. In this study, we focus on identifying those structural factors that are responsible for the decline in the growth rate of domestic demand after the Asian financial crisis, which may result in the decrease in economic growth.
Motivated by observing dramatic changes in the growth rates of the relevant variables such as GDP, domestic demand, investment, and exports, we consider two structural problems that the Korean economy faced after the Asian financial crisis: i) one is the dampened ripple effects of exports on domestic demand and thus on GDP; ii) the other is the decrease in the growth of household disposable income.
First, exports can contribute to the economic growth via two channels. One is the direct contribution to the GDP. The other is the indirect contribution to the GDP through the domestic demand (that is, the ripple effect of exports on GDP). As firms export more, they tend to use more production inputs and thus are more likely to increase investment and employment, which results in the increase in domestic demand. In fact, the data reveal that about one third of GDP growth can be accounted for by exports directly in the period of 1981-1996. This implies that two third of GDP growth can be explained by the domestic demand. In contrast, the Korean economic growth after the Asian financial crisis is entirely driven by export growth, that is, the growth of export sector does not boost domestic demand after the crisis. In other words, the ripple effect of export sectors on GDP has significantly dampened after the Asian financial crisis.
Furthermore, we found two potential reasons for the dampened ripple effect from the export sector. These reasons are closely related to changes in investment behaviors of large-sized Korean exporting firms before and after the Asian financial crisis: i) the large-sized exporting firms do not invest their earnings from exports any more to create new industries; ii) they tend to use more foreign value added contents for their exports and to increase outward FDI by participating in the Global Value Chains (GVCs).
Second, another structural factor that affects the pattern of domestic demand before and after the Asian financial crisis is closely associated with the decrease in the growth of household real disposable income. Its growth rate was 10.3% in the former period (1981-1996), which is higher than the GDP growth rate. Its growth rate, in contrast, was 2.3% after the financial crisis, which is lower than the GDP growth rate. This remarkable decrease in the growth of household income may influence household consumption, and hence economic growth. In fact, the data reveal that the real consumption growth rate was 8.4% in the former period and 2.4% in the latter period, respectively. These patterns of consumption growth rates before and after the crisis were similar to the patterns of both the GDP and the income growth rate. In addition, the decrease in household disposable income is more likely to induce increase in household debts and thus an increase in the burden of debt service.
This will further restrict consumption and domestic demand growth, which may result in an overall decline in economic growth. To be more specific, we pointed out three potential factors that are closely linked to the decrease in the growth of household disposable income. These reasons are related to the labor market reforms after the Asian financial crisis: i) a seizable number of necessity-driven entrepreneurs (i.e., self-employed households) whose income are relatively low, ii) a large proportion of temporary workers whose wages are about 70 to 80% of the regular workers, and iii) a relatively low wage in small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) which employ a large portion of total workforce.
In the two subsequent chapters, we examined the two issues related to the structural problems of the Korean economy using the micro-level data: i) a link between temporary employment contract and firms’ productivity and ii) a difference in consumption behavior between wage workers and self-employed households. Motivated by concerns that an increase in the share of temporary workers in total employment can potentially harm firm productivity, we empirically investigated the relationship between temporary employment and firms’ productivity. The estimated results show that using temporary workers decreases firms’ productivity.
Besides, we found some evidence that a higher conversion rate from temporary to permanent worker leads to the increase in firm’s productivity. Finally, we looked into the seriousness of the self-employed household debt that may negatively affect consumption, and thus the overall domestic demand. To do this, we examined the different patterns of consumption behavior between wage workers and self-employed households using the household-level panel survey data.
The key finding is that the financial debt of self-employed households is negatively associated with consumption expenditure, while this relationship is positive for wage workers. That is, the self-employed households tend to make a loan (i.e., business loans) that is not directly related to consumption itself. Rather, they tend to reduce their consumption due to a heavy debt burden from business loans.
To the extent that the dampened ripple effects from the export sectors after the Asian financial crisis are mainly due to the changed investment behaviors of large exporting firms, policy makers should develop policies which aim at providing a better environment where small and medium-sized firms can participate in global value chains more actively. Those firms are not likely to use more foreign value added contents or invest in foreign countries because of their small sizes and limited capabilities. Instead, they may participate in global value chains by attracting multinational firms. To do this, those firms should develop better technologies or produce high quality goods and/or services which can be differentiated from foreign small- and medium-sized firms so that they can have comparative advantages. And policies should be able to encourage small and medium-sized firms to develop those technologies and to produce those goods and services.
Most importantly, polices should be aimed at attracting foreign multinational firms so that domestic firms benefit from the active participation in global value chains. To the extent that the decrease in the growth of household disposable income is due to the presence of significant share of necessity-driven entrepreneurs and non-regular workers, and their relatively low income, policy makers should reform labor markets to deal with these issues. In particular, policies should be aimed at reducing the use of temporary workers by raising the conversion rate from temporary to permanent employment. In addition, alternative job opportunities which may absorb those self-employed workers should be created.
There is a large degree of human capital mismatch: retired workers, in general, are more likely better matches for new businesses such as food and beverage franchise and agency for selling mobile phones. If there exist jobs where they can take advantage of their human capital, they would have less incentive to open those businesses which contribute to decreasing labor productivity in the service sector.