Over-Education and the Skills of UK Graduates
During the early Nineties the proportion of UK graduates doubled over a very short period of time. This paper investigates the effect of the expansion on early labour market attainment, focusing on over-education. We define over-education by combining occupation codes and a self-reported measure for the appropriateness of the match between qualification and the job. We therefore define three groups of graduates: matched, apparently over-educated and genuinely over-educated; to compare pre- and post-expansion cohorts of graduates. We find the proportion of over-educated graduates has doubled, even though over-education wage penalties have remained stable. This suggests that the labour market accommodated most of the large expansion of university graduates. Apparently over-educated graduates are mostly undistinguishable from matched graduates, while genuinely over-educated graduates principally lack non-academic skills such as management and leadership. Additionally, genuine over-education increases unemployment by three months but has no impact of the number of jobs held. Individual unobserved heterogeneity differs between the three groups of graduates but controlling for it, does not alter these conclusions.
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98-03, Department of Economics, University of Aberdeen.
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