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Overeducation in the Labour Market


  • Séamus McGuinness


. This paper presents a review of the literature on overeducation. The paper assesses the consistency of overeducation within the context of a number of theoretical frameworks including Human Capital Theory (HCT) and Assignment Theory. The analysis goes on to discuss the various measurement controversies associated with the study of overeducation in order to provide an assessment of the extent to which the impacts of the phenomenon represent an economic reality as opposed to a statistical artefact. After reviewing the literature, it is concluded that the impacts of overeducation are likely to be non‐trivial and that the phenomenon may potentially be costly to individuals and firms, as well as the economy more generally. The existence of overeducation also raises some doubts with respect to the validity of some of the central assumptions and predictions of HCT that are unlikely to be fully explained by gaps in the standard wage equation framework.

Suggested Citation

  • Séamus McGuinness, 2006. "Overeducation in the Labour Market," Journal of Economic Surveys, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 20(3), pages 387-418, July.
  • Handle: RePEc:bla:jecsur:v:20:y:2006:i:3:p:387-418
    DOI: 10.1111/j.0950-0804.2006.00284.x

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