Yesola Kweon, Ph.D.

Utah State University

Country: United States (Utah)

Research Interests

Class, Inequality, and Labor Politics

Political Economy

Public Policy

Public Opinion

Asian Politics

Elections, Election Administration, and Voting Behavior

Specific Areas of Interest

Labor Market Policy

Social Welfare

Voting Behavior

Political Parties

East Asia

Public Attitude/opinion

Countries of Interest

South Korea



Journal Articles:

(2019) What Money Can Buy: Perceived Security in China, Journal of Contemporary China

Tags: Asian Politics, Political Economy, Public Policy

Many studies emphasize the authoritarian bargain to explain why authoritarian regimes develop social welfare in the absence of democratic accountability. Increased welfare support enhances economic security and, in turn, strengthens public support for the regime. However, few studies have empirically demonstrated the core part of the underlying mechanism that welfare support leads to reduced economic insecurity in non-democratic regimes. By analyzing survey data from China, this study examines how labor market programs affect public economic insecurity. The results reveal that vocational training has a U-shaped impact on risk perception. It alleviates perceived insecurity when the unemployment rate is at the low or high end and has negligible effects at the medium level of unemployment rates. Furthermore, the impact of vocational training is particularly strong for individuals with higher incomes, urban hukou, and public sector employment. In contrast, regardless of the unemployment rate, unemployment insurance has a negative effect on risk perception overall. The results show that the type of social policy and macro- as well as micro-level socio-economic attributes should be taken into account to understand the impact of social welfare.

(2018) Economic Competitiveness and Social Policy in Open Economies, International Interactions

Tags: Political Economy, Public Policy, Development

While many studies have shown that greater trade openness affects the overall size of social spending, this study emphasizes that it also affects types of social policies that a government prioritizes. When faced with deepening trade competition, governments tend to use different policy measures to address the opportunities and challenges stemming from their economic competitiveness in the international market. Policy makers in countries with high relative labor costs are likely to privilege social insurances and income transfer. This is because as high labor costs make their workers more vulnerable in the trade competition, governments seek to protect skilled labor in order to maintain their economic advantage in advanced industries. In contrast, when relative labor costs are low, human capital investment programs are likely to be emphasized to enhance productivity and the quality of labor to capitalize the cost competitiveness of a country’s workers. The findings from empirical analyzes of 26 OECD economies from 1991 to 2012 support these arguments.

(2018) Types of labor market policy and the electoral behavior of insecure workers, Electoral Studies

Tags: Class, Inequality, and Labor Politics, Elections, Election Administration, and Voting Behavior, Public Policy

Recent research finds a significant difference in voting behavior of workers with secure employment and those without. What is less understood are the conditions in which the divergent political choices of these two groups overlap. Focusing on two types of labor market policies—unemployment insurance and active labor market programs, this paper examines how more generous government spending on different types of welfare programs shapes the electoral behavior of individuals with adverse labor market experience. By using multilevel analysis of individual surveys from 18 European countries (1999–2015), I find that unemployed and temporary workers are more likely to vote against traditional left-wing parties and to withdraw from voting at all. The greater spending on unemployment insurance, however, alters the outcome by realigning insecure workers with old left parties such as social democratic and center-left socialist parties. By contrast, expenditure on active labor market programs has a weak conditional impact in general. The important implication of this study is that while government policy does moderate the effect of adverse labor market experience, types of social policy matters in understanding policy feedback effects. I further discuss this point in relation to the different implications of income support and activation programs for risk mitigation.

(2017) Do Higher Government Wages Induce Less Corruption? Cross-country Panel Evidence, Journal of Policy Modeling

Tags: Public Policy, Political Economy, Research Methods & Research Design

(With Weihua An) Prior studies have lent mixed evidence on the effectiveness of increasing government wages to reduce corruption. Based on a dynamic principal–agent model, this study uses cross-country data over ten years (1999–2008) and various statistical models to present updated evidence. Our analyses show that increasing government relative wage by one unit (i.e., by the amount of the average manufacturing wage in a country) is associated with a decrease in the level of perceived corruption by 0.26 units. The effect appears to be particularly significant for non-OECD countries (where corruption is more rampant) or for countries with a relatively low government wage. The overall policy implication is: increasing government wages can help curtail corruption, but solely relying on increasing government wages to reduce corruption can be very costly. For example, to reduce the level of corruption in non-OECD countries to that in OECD countries, the government wage would have to be increased by about seven times.

(2016) Taking Cues on Multidimensional Issues: The Case of Attitudes towards Immigration, West European Politics

Tags: Public Opinion, Immigration & Citizenship

(With Timothy Hellwig) What determines popular attitudes toward immigration? Recent work emphasises the importance of education rather than economic or labour market factors. Missing from this work, however, is a consideration of elite positions. This study extends education-based accounts in two key ways: by acknowledging the multidimensional nature of the immigration issue and by incorporating cues from party elites. Cues from trusted elites inform popular attitudes on immigration. But rather than serving as a heuristic for the less sophisticated, elite cues on immigration are disproportionately employed by those more educated individuals who rely on elite positions to form opinions on multidimensional issues, like immigration, on which they are cross-pressured. Theoretical expectations are supported by evidence from cross-national analyses of party positions and public opinion and from a longitudinal examination of mass and party positions in Denmark. The results call attention to the importance of dimensionality in the formation of issue opinions.