IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this paper

Educational Mismatch: Are High-Skilled Immigrants Really Working at High-Skilled Jobs and the Price They Pay if They Aren’t?


  • Chiswick, Barry R.

    () (Department of Economics, University of Illinois at Chicago)

  • Miller, Paul W.

    (Business School, University of Western Australia)


This paper examines the incidence of the mismatch of the educational attainment and the occupation of employment, and the impact of this mismatch on the earnings, of high-skilled adult male immigrants in the US labor market. Analyses for high-skilled adult male native-born workers are also presented for comparison purposes. The results show that over-education is widespread in the high-skilled US labor market, both for immigrants and the native born. The extent of over-education declines with duration in the US as high-skilled immigrants obtain jobs commensurate with their educational level. Years of schooling that are above that which is usual for a worker’s occupation are associated with very low increases in earnings. Indeed, in the first 10 to 20 years in the US years of over-education among high-skilled workers have a negative effect on earnings. This ineffective use of surplus education appears across all occupations and high-skilled education levels. Although schooling serves as a pathway to occupational attainment, earnings appear to be more closely linked to a worker’s occupation than to the individual’s level of schooling.

Suggested Citation

  • Chiswick, Barry R. & Miller, Paul W., 2010. "Educational Mismatch: Are High-Skilled Immigrants Really Working at High-Skilled Jobs and the Price They Pay if They Aren’t?," SULCIS Working Papers 2010:7, Stockholm University, Linnaeus Center for Integration Studies - SULCIS.
  • Handle: RePEc:hhs:sulcis:2010_007

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: no

    Other versions of this item:

    References listed on IDEAS

    1. 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.
    2. Chiswick, Barry R. & Miller, Paul W., 2008. "Why is the payoff to schooling smaller for immigrants?," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 15(6), pages 1317-1340, December.
    3. 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.
    4. Richard R. Verdugo & Naomi Turner Verdugo, 1989. "The Impact of Surplus Schooling on Earnings: Some Additional Findings," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 24(4), pages 629-643.
    5. Chiswick, Barry R. & Miller, Paul W., 2010. "Does the choice of reference levels of education matter in the ORU earnings equation?," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 29(6), pages 1076-1085, December.
    6. Chiswick, Barry R. & Miller, Paul W., 2007. "The International Transferability of Immigrants’ Human Capital Skills," IZA Discussion Papers 2670, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    7. Stephen Rubb, 2003. "Post-College Schooling, Overeducation, and Hourly Earnings in the United States," Education Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 11(1), pages 53-72.
    8. Cohn, Elchanan & Khan, Shahina P., 1995. "The wage effects of overschooling revisited," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 2(1), pages 67-76, March.
    9. Vahey, Shaun P., 2000. "The great Canadian training robbery: evidence on the returns to educational mismatch," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 19(2), pages 219-227, April.
    10. Russell W. Rumberger, 1987. "The Impact of Surplus Schooling on Productivity and Earnings," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 22(1), pages 24-50.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)


    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.

    Cited by:

    1. Martin Kahanec & Renáta Králiková, 2012. "Higher Education Policy and Migration: The Role of International Student Mobility," ifo DICE Report, ifo Institute - Leibniz Institute for Economic Research at the University of Munich, vol. 9(4), pages 20-27, 02.
    2. Matloob Piracha & Florin Vadean, 2013. "Migrant educational mismatch and the labor market," Chapters,in: International Handbook on the Economics of Migration, chapter 9, pages 176-192 Edward Elgar Publishing.
    3. Carlos Gradín, 2013. "Conditional occupational segregation of minorities in the US," The Journal of Economic Inequality, Springer;Society for the Study of Economic Inequality, vol. 11(4), pages 473-493, December.
    4. Neeraj Kaushal & Yao Lu & Nicole Denier & Julia Shu-Huah Wang & Stephen J. Trejo, 2016. "Immigrant employment and earnings growth in Canada and the USA: evidence from longitudinal data," Journal of Population Economics, Springer;European Society for Population Economics, vol. 29(4), pages 1249-1277, October.
    5. August Gächter & Stefanie Smoliner, 2010. "How well does education travel? Education and occupation with and without migration," FIW Research Reports series II-010, FIW.
    6. Pernilla Joona & Nabanita Gupta & Eskil Wadensjö, 2014. "Overeducation among immigrants in Sweden: incidence, wage effects and state dependence," IZA Journal of Migration, Springer;Forschungsinstitut zur Zukunft der Arbeit GmbH (IZA), vol. 3(1), pages 1-23, December.
    7. Chiswick, Barry R. & Miller, Paul W., 2010. "The Effects of School Quality in the Origin on the Payoff to Schooling for Immigrants," IZA Discussion Papers 5075, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    8. Nong ZHU & Cécile BATISSE, 2016. "L’Évolution Des Inégalités De Revenu Entre Canadiens De Naissance Et Immigrés," Region et Developpement, Region et Developpement, LEAD, Universite du Sud - Toulon Var, vol. 44, pages 121-140.
    9. Olga Alonso-Villar & Coral del Río & Carlos Gradín, 2010. "The extent of occupational segregation in the US: Differences by race, ethnicity, and gender," Working Papers 180, ECINEQ, Society for the Study of Economic Inequality.
    10. Kahanec, Martin & Králiková, Renáta, 2011. "Pulls of International Student Mobility," IZA Discussion Papers 6233, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).

    More about this item


    Immigrants; Skill; Schooling; Occupations; Earnings; Rates of Return;

    JEL classification:

    • F22 - International Economics - - International Factor Movements and International Business - - - International Migration
    • I21 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Analysis of Education
    • J24 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Human Capital; Skills; Occupational Choice; Labor Productivity
    • J31 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Wages, Compensation, and Labor Costs - - - Wage Level and Structure; Wage Differentials
    • J61 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Mobility, Unemployment, Vacancies, and Immigrant Workers - - - Geographic Labor Mobility; Immigrant Workers

    NEP fields

    This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:


    Access and download statistics


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:hhs:sulcis:2010_007. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Eskil Wadensjö). General contact details of provider: .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.