Monday, March 28, 2011

Social Drinking in the Workplace

This post highlights a paper by Sulki Chung, Hyun Jin Jun and Seung Soo Kim Workplace Drinking Environment and Women's Drinking in Korea delivered at the Fourth Conference of the East Asian Social Policy Conference in 2007. It addresses the social drinking habits of Korean women in the white-collar workforce and is part of a series of posts surveying prenatal alcohol exposure in some children born in Korea.

The authors of this paper surveyed 209 female "office workers" in Seoul, Korea's largest city, who filled out a survey in early 2007. Besides standard statistical data analysis, the authors conducted focus groups with the women surveyed. Chung, Jin and Kim reported:

“[The] Korean workplace is characterized by frequent after work gatherings. In many
occasions, participation in these gatherings is not a voluntary option. Although held
after work hours, after work gatherings are considered an extension of work, and those
who don’t participate are frowned upon. This is a problem because at the drinking
gatherings, there is usually the pressure to drink, and especially when this is coming
from the superiors or close co-workers, the potential to drink increases regardless of
one’s personal intention (Kim and Kim, 2004).” (Workplace, 4)

“Korean culture values the group solidarity and group identity, which makes easier for colleagues’ drinking culture to influence other members within the work community.” (Workplace, 5)

“The total sample included 209 females currently participating in the workforce. The
mean age was 29.6 years… and the majority were college graduates or over
(87.6%)…. Forty-two percent of the sample had no religion, and 31.6% were
Protestants. More than 75% of the participants were single, and about half (55.1%) of
the respondents’ monthly income was between $1,000 and $2,000.” (Workplace, 10)

“Considering that this sample includes only women, it is interesting to see that the percent of current drinkers is 86.6% of the total sample. This is higher than the current statistics indicating that 67.4% of females were current drinkers in the general population (KIHASA, 2006). This speaks to the fact that working females are more exposed to drinking than their non-working counterparts.” (Workplace, 11-12)

“Less than 1 out of 10 respondents (9.4%) participated in an alcohol-related education at the work site, indicating that majority of workplaces do not provide alcohol problem prevention education.” (Workplace, 12)

“Three variables were found to be significant predictors of risky drinking among female
employees; positive drinking expectancy [expecting consumption to be pleasurable], workplace drinking culture, and frequency of after work gatherings….. That is, regardless of one’s intension, alcohol accepting culture is likely to increase their employee’s hazardous drinking.” (Workplace, 14)

“Through many changes and economic growth women have become an important work force in the society. Being in the workforce means increased exposure to alcohol, and the high percentage of current drinkers among female workers compared to general public speaks to this effect. Due to different responses to alcohol, females are at more risk for adverse consequences related to alcohol. Prevention efforts should direct toward targeting men and women separately in order to better meet specific needs. Current study findings on workplace factors and their effects on women’s risky drinking is expected to contribute to more expanded research in the future on female alcohol use at workplace.
Although not directly inquired, current finding that less than 10% of employees have experienced alcohol-related education of any kind may entail that most of these workplaces do not have an alcohol policy. This may involve a more macro-level intervention such as enacting a nationwide regulation that encourage workplaces to adopt a specific alcohol policy as well as campaigns that promote individual company’s efforts to develop a policy and to increase awareness among all employees.” (Chung, 19)

Unfortunately the work of the Korean Alcohol Research Foundation, cited repeatedly in Chung, Jun and Kim's paper, is only available in Hangul. I'd love to dig in to their research database and find out what is currently known about Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders and their causes in Korea. With exposure statistics like these, children being placed for adoption overseas cannot be the only ones affected.

1 comment:

Karen said...

I'd be very interested to find out the rate of prenatal exposure for the general population of Korea. The general belief in the adoption community seems to be that there is little/no stigma to drinking while pregnant in Korea and I'm not sure I believe that to be true.