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The impact of surplus skills on earnings: Extending the over-education model to language proficiency

  • Chiswick, Barry R.
  • Miller, Paul W.

This paper examines whether the framework developed in the educational mismatch field of research can be generalized to language skills. It uses data from the Occupational Information Network (O*NET) database and both “Worker Self-Assessment” and “Realized Matches” procedures to quantify expected levels of English skills in each of over 500 occupations in the US Census. Earnings data from the 2000 US Census for adult male immigrant workers are then examined in relation to these occupational English requirements using the over-education, required education, under-education (ORU) approach. The analyses show that earnings are related to a “correct” matching of an immigrant's language skills with what is expected in his occupation. Mismatches have a small effect on earnings – positive for proficiency in excess of the norms in the occupation and negative for deficits in proficiency. The findings are robust with respect to a range of measurement and specification issues typically examined in ORU studies. It is concluded that the ORU model offers a framework for analysis which can be readily generalized to other forms of investment in human capital.

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Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Economics of Education Review.

Volume (Year): 36 (2013)
Issue (Month): C ()
Pages: 263-275

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Handle: RePEc:eee:ecoedu:v:36:y:2013:i:c:p:263-275
Contact details of provider: Web page: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/econedurev

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  1. Hoyt Bleakley & Aimee Chin, 2004. "Language Skills and Earnings: Evidence from Childhood Immigrants," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 86(2), pages 481-496, May.
  2. Groot, Wim & Maassen van den Brink, Henriette, 2000. "Overeducation in the labor market: a meta-analysis," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 19(2), pages 149-158, April.
  3. Dolton, Peter & Vignoles, Anna, 2000. "The incidence and effects of overeducation in the U.K. graduate labour market," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 19(2), pages 179-198, April.
  4. Paul W. Miller & Barry R. Chiswick, 2006. "Why is the Payoff to Schooling Smaller for Immigrants?," Economics Discussion / Working Papers 06-03, The University of Western Australia, Department of Economics.
  5. Kaivan Munshi, 2003. "Networks In The Modern Economy: Mexican Migrants In The U.S. Labor Market," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 118(2), pages 549-599, May.
  6. Duncan, Greg J. & Hoffman, Saul D., 1981. "The incidence and wage effects of overeducation," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 1(1), pages 75-86, February.
  7. Hartog, Joop, 2000. "Over-education and earnings: where are we, where should we go?," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 19(2), pages 131-147, April.
  8. Kiker, B. F. & Santos, Maria C. & de Oliveira, M. Mendes, 1997. "Overeducation and undereducation: Evidence for Portugal," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 16(2), pages 111-125, April.
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