J Korean Acad Oral Health.  2018 Dec;42(4):167-174. 10.11149/jkaoh.2018.42.4.167.

The relationship between precarious work and unmet dental care needs in South Korea: focus on job and income insecurity

  • 1BK21PLUS Program in ‘Embodiment: Health-Society Interaction’, Department of Public Health Sciences, Graduate School, Korea University, Seoul, Korea.
  • 2Department of Dental Hygiene, College of Health Science, Kangwon National University, Samcheock, Korea. phealth172@kangwon.ac.kr


OBJECTIVES: The aim of this study was to analyze the accessibility of dental care services among individuals with precarious employment in South Korea.
We used the 9th wave of the Korean Health Panel data (2015) and included 7,736 wage and non-wage earners in our study. We determined precariousness in the labor market as a combination of employment relationship and job income, and categorized individuals based on this into the following four groups: Group A comprising those who report job and income security, Group B comprising those who experience job insecurity alone, Group C comprising those who report a stable job but low income, and Group D comprising those who experience both job and income insecurity. Accessibility to dental care services was determined by experience of unmet dental care needs and unmet dental care needs caused primarily by financial burden. Logistic regression analyses were used to assess the effect of precarious work on access to dental care services.
Individuals with job insecurity (Group B; OR=1.445; 95% CI=1.22–1.70) and both job and income insecurity (Group D; OR=1.899; 95% CI=1.61–2.24) were more likely to have unmet needs than the comparison group. Both groups B and D were also 2.048 (95% CI=1.57–2.66) times and 4.435 (95% CI =3.46–5.68) times more likely, respectively, to have unmet dental care needs caused by financial burden. Education status, health insurance, and health status were all also effective factors influencing unmet dental care needs.
Unstable employment and low income resulted in diminished access to dental care services. Therefore, governments should consider health policy solutions to reduce barriers preventing individuals with employment and income instability from accessing adequate dental care.


Dental care services; accessibility to health services; precarious worker; unmet dental care need
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