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Descrepancies between Supply and Demand and Adjustment Processes in the Labour Market


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  • Myra Wieling
  • Lex Borghans


Changes in demand and supply in segments of the labour market will affect the labour market position of workers with an educational background in a related field of study. In one economic tradition such discrepancies between supply and demand are thought to lead to unemployment in the case of excess supply and to unfilled vacancies or skill shortages in the case of excess demand. The other neo‐classical oriented tradition expects wage adjustments to take fully account of these labour market imbalances, leading to higher wages for studies with excess demand and lower wages in case of excess supply. In practice the labour market might, on the one hand, be more flexible than suggested by the first approach, but on the other hand adjustment might be incomplete and not only wages but also other aspects of the employment relationship might be affected by a friction between supply and demand. This study examines the relationship between discrepancies between labour demand and supply on the one hand and manifestations of these tensions in the labour market experience of school‐leavers on the other hand. To investigate this relationship, a random coefficient model has been used, which allows for different adjustment processes for the various educational types, but still makes full use of all the information available in the data. The analyses provide insights about the importance of different adjustment processes and their complementarity and substitutability. We show that on average, supply surpluses lead to pressure to accept jobs at a level which is lower than the school‐leavers educational level, jobs with relatively low wages, and jobs with part‐time contracts. A direct link between supply surpluses and unemployment is only found for a few specific fields of study. Unemployment seems to occur mostly when school‐leavers do not take temporary jobs or jobs below their educational level in case of excess supply. Copyright Fondazione Giacomo Brodolini and Blackwell Publishers Ltd 2001.

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by CEIS in its journal Labour.

Volume (Year): 15 (2001)
Issue (Month): 1 (03)
Pages: 33-56

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Handle: RePEc:bla:labour:v:15:y:2001:i:1:p:33-56

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Cited by:
  1. Daniëlle Bertrand-Cloodt & Frank Cörvers & Ben Kriechel & Jesper Thor, 2012. "Why Do Recent Graduates Enter into Flexible Jobs?," De Economist, Springer, vol. 160(2), pages 157-175, June.
  2. Dupuy Arnaud, 2009. "An evaluation of the forecast of the indicator of the labour market gap," ROA Technical Report 003, Maastricht University, Research Centre for Education and the Labour Market (ROA).
  3. Blázquez Cuesta, Maite & Rendon, Silvio, 2007. "Over-Education in Multilingual Economies: Evidence from Catalonia," IZA Discussion Papers 3061, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  4. Cörvers,Frank & Heijke,Hans, 2005. "Forecasting the labour market by occupation and education: Some key issues," ROA Working Paper 001, Maastricht University, Research Centre for Education and the Labour Market (ROA).
  5. Dupuy,Arnaud, 2005. "An evaluation of labour market forecasts by type of education and occupation for 2002," ROA Working Paper 002, Maastricht University, Research Centre for Education and the Labour Market (ROA).


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