Prof’s book translated, published in China

person reading a book on couch with pile of books nearby BANNER

A book, co-edited by York University Professor Thomas Klassen, about the aging populations and shifts in the labour market in South Korea has achieved a rare feat: being translated and published in China.

Korea’s Retirement Predicament: The Ageing Tiger, which Klassen co-edited with Professor Yunjeong Yang, a colleague in Korea, studies a defining feature of the 21st century in many countries: more older people, fewer younger people.

Thomas Klassen
Thomas Klassen

The book looks at how workers in South Korea have been contractually obligated to retire at younger ages (mid-50s) and then take on low-paying self-employment or contract work. The thinking behind the policy was to ensure the workforce remained young and highly productive. However, Klassen’s book explores how as the labour market shifts with a rapidly aging population, the existing arrangement may no longer be as functional.

Translations of social science books are rare, as they are fairly specialized, but The Ageing Tiger was translated and published in China – despite being primarily about Korea – because the two countries have similar demographic and labour market conditions. As a result, because it covers a similar policy landscape, the translation can provide Chinese political, administrative and community leaders with valuable lessons as they navigate the phenomenon in their own country.

The Chinese edition of Korea's Retirement Predicament
The Chinese edition of Korea’s Retirement Predicament: The Ageing Tiger.

Klassen notes that creative and new solutions will be needed from individuals, families, employers, and politicians addressing population aging and ensuring that retirement policies are as effective as possible. “By sharing knowledge, which is what the translated book does, the best policies and solutions will emerge” says Klassen, who co-wrote two chapters in the book.

Xuelian Liu, a professor from the Dalian University of Foreign Languages who translated the book, agrees. “I firmly believe that the Chinese version of the book will be of value to researchers, students and policymakers in China concerning how to cope with the problems caused by an aging population,” Liu says.

The book also builds upon Klassen’s body of work as an expert in South Korean politics and policy, which has included teaching a summer study abroad course that allowed York University undergraduate students to travel to Seoul, South Korea. He is teaching this course again in the summer of 2024.