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Graduate overeducation as a sheepskin effect: evidence from Northern Ireland


  • S. Mcguinness


This article examines the nature of graduate overeducation amongst a group of applicants to a graduate conversion programme. It was found that while a substantial proportion of earnings differentials were associated with a mismatch between individual skill levels and job requirements, wage gaps were still likely to occur should such mismatches be eliminated. The evidence suggests that graduate wage levels are heavily related to sheepskin effects associated with the attainment of jobs with graduate level entry requirements. These sheepskin effects suggest that the process of job categorization is arbitrary in nature, with stated job requirements somewhat independent of actual skill requirements. The analysis suggests that graduate overeduction is better understood within the context of both skill and categorization mismatches as opposed to skill matches alone.

Suggested Citation

  • S. Mcguinness, 2003. "Graduate overeducation as a sheepskin effect: evidence from Northern Ireland," Applied Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 35(5), pages 597-608.
  • Handle: RePEc:taf:applec:v:35:y:2003:i:5:p:597-608
    DOI: 10.1080/0003684022000029284

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