Perspect Nurs Sci.  2017 Oct;14(2):55-63. 10.16952/pns.2017.14.2.55.

Comparison of Nursing Workforce Supply and Employment in South Korea and Other OECD Countries

  • 1Graduate Student, College of Nursing, Seoul National University, Seoul, Korea.
  • 2Professor, College of Nursing · Research Institute of Nursing Science, Seoul National University, Seoul, Korea.


This study aims to report on and compare the conditions of practicing nurses and nursing graduates in Korea and other OECD countries to suggest policy to improve nurse staffing in Korea.
Data on nurses and nursing graduates from 34 OECD countries in 2015 (or the nearest year) were analyzed. The proportion of practicing nurses among nurses who were licensed to practice and nursing graduates per population and per the number of practicing nurses were examined.
The number of practicing nurses per 1,000 population in Korea was 5.9 and, in Korea, only 31.0% of licensed nurses were practicing, whereas the OECD average was 69.5%. Korea had the highest number of nursing graduates (109.0) per 100,000 population and the highest number of nursing graduates (183.5) per 1,000 practicing nurses in the OECD countries. Skill-mix analysis indicated that 52.2% of the practicing nurses in Korea were professional practicing nurses, which was the second-lowest among the OECD countries. The ratio of nurses' wages to those of physician specialists was 0.43 in the OECD countries.
Nurse staffing and skill-mix in Korea were very low in comparison to other OECD countries. Policies for retention of nurses via improved working conditions are required.


Licensed nurses; Practicing nurses; Nursing graduates; OECD; Remuneration
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