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Rising tide effect or crowding out - does tertiary education expansion lift the tasks of workers without tertiary degree?


  • Tobias Schultheiss

    (University of Zurich)

  • Curdin Pfister

    (University of Zurich)

  • Uschi Backes-Gellner

    (University of Zurich)


An extensive literature examines the effects of tertiary education expansion on wages of workers with and without tertiary degree. However, the question how tertiary education expansion affects the tasks of these workers remains unexplored. We examine whether such an expansion crowds out sophisticated tasks such as R&D in jobs of workers without tertiary degree or elevates the content of their tasks via a rising tide effect. In particular, we analyze the effects of the establishment of Universities of Applied Sciences (UAS), a large tertiary education expansion in Switzerland, on R&D tasks of workers with apprenticeship training. Job ads provide us with information about the demand for R&D tasks. To estimate causal effects, we exploit the quasi-natural variation in time and location of the establishment of UAS campuses and perform difference-in-differences estimations. We find that firms demand more R&D tasks of workers with apprenticeship training after a tertiary education expansion. Our results therefore show that instead of crowding out, tertiary education expansion lifts the tasks of workers with apprenticeship training via a rising tide effect.

Suggested Citation

  • Tobias Schultheiss & Curdin Pfister & Uschi Backes-Gellner, 2018. "Rising tide effect or crowding out - does tertiary education expansion lift the tasks of workers without tertiary degree?," Economics of Education Working Paper Series 0154, University of Zurich, Department of Business Administration (IBW).
  • Handle: RePEc:iso:educat:0154

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Sandra E. Black & Lisa M. Lynch, 2004. "What's driving the new economy?: the benefits of workplace innovation," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 114(493), pages 97-116, February.
    2. Winters, John V., 2014. "STEM graduates, human capital externalities, and wages in the U.S," Regional Science and Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 48(C), pages 190-198.
    3. Moretti, Enrico, 2004. "Estimating the social return to higher education: evidence from longitudinal and repeated cross-sectional data," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 121(1-2), pages 175-212.
    4. Ay?egül ?ahin & Joseph Song & Giorgio Topa & Giovanni L. Violante, 2014. "Mismatch Unemployment," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 104(11), pages 3529-3564, November.
    5. repec:eee:moneco:v:97:y:2018:i:c:p:48-67 is not listed on IDEAS
    6. Bo Hansson, 2007. "Effects of Tertiary Expansion: Crowding-out effects and labour market matches for the higher educated," OECD Education Working Papers 10, OECD Publishing.
    7. Shawn Kantor & Alexander Whalley, 2014. "Knowledge Spillovers from Research Universities: Evidence from Endowment Value Shocks," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 96(1), pages 171-188, March.
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    More about this item


    higher education expansion; labor demand; job advertisements; crowding out;

    JEL classification:

    • I23 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Higher Education; Research Institutions
    • J23 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Labor Demand
    • M51 - Business Administration and Business Economics; Marketing; Accounting; Personnel Economics - - Personnel Economics - - - Firm Employment Decisions; Promotions

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