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Overeducation, undereducation, and the theory of career mobility

  • Felix Buchel
  • Antje Mertens
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    The theory of career mobility (Sicherman and Galor, Journal of Political Economy, 98(1), 169-92, 1990) claims that wage penalties for overeducated workers are compensated by better promotion prospects. Sicherman (Journal of Labour Economics, 9(2), 101-22, 1991) was able to confirm this theory in an empirical study using panel data. However, the only retest using panel data so far (Robst, Eastern Economic Journal, 21, 539-50, 1995) produced rather ambiguous results. In the present paper, random effects models to analyse relative wage growth are estimated using data from the German Socio-Economic Panel. It is found that overeducated workers in Germany have markedly lower relative wage growth rates than adequately educated workers. The results cast serious doubt on whether the career mobility model is able to explain overeducation in Germany. The plausibility of the results is supported by the finding that overeducated workers have less access to formal and informal on-the-job training, which is usually found to be positively correlated with wage growth even when controlling for selectivity effects (Pischke, Journal of Population Economics, 14, 523-48, 2001).

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    Article provided by Taylor & Francis Journals in its journal Applied Economics.

    Volume (Year): 36 (2004)
    Issue (Month): 8 ()
    Pages: 803-816

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    Handle: RePEc:taf:applec:v:36:y:2004:i:8:p:803-816
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    1. P. J. Sloane & H. Battu & P. T. Seaman, 1999. "Overeducation, undereducation and the British labour market," Applied Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 31(11), pages 1437-1453.
    2. Daly, Mary C. & Buchel, Felix & Duncan, Greg J., 2000. "Premiums and penalties for surplus and deficit education: Evidence from the United States and Germany," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 19(2), pages 169-178, April.
    3. Jörn-Steffen Pischke, 2001. "Continuous training in Germany," Journal of Population Economics, Springer, vol. 14(3), pages 523-548.
    4. Sicherman, Nachum, 1991. ""Overeducation" in the Labor Market," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 9(2), pages 101-22, April.
    5. Ann P. Bartel & George J. Borjas, 1978. "Wage Growth and Job Turnover: An Empirical Analysis," NBER Working Papers 0285, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    6. Oded Galor & Nachum Sicherman, 1988. "A Theory of Career Mobility," University of Chicago - George G. Stigler Center for Study of Economy and State 51, Chicago - Center for Study of Economy and State.
    7. Burda, Michael C. & Mertens, Antje, 2001. "Estimating wage losses of displaced workers in Germany," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 8(1), pages 15-41, January.
    8. Tsang, Mun C. & Levin, Henry M., 1985. "The economics of overeducation," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 4(2), pages 93-104, April.
    9. P. J. Sloane & H. Battu & P. T. Seaman, 1996. "Overeducation and the formal education/experience and training trade-off," Applied Economics Letters, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 3(8), pages 511-515.
    10. Robert H. Topel & Michael P. Ward, 1988. "Job Mobility and the Careers of Young Men," NBER Working Papers 2649, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    11. H. Battu & C. R. Belfield & P. J. Sloane, 1999. "Overeducation Among Graduates: a cohort view," Education Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 7(1), pages 21-38.
    12. 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.
    13. Addison, John T & Portugal, Pedro, 1989. "Job Displacement, Relative Wage Changes, and Duration of Unemployment," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 7(3), pages 281-302, July.
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