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Overeducation in Europe: Trends, Convergence and Drivers


  • McGuinness, Seamus

    () (Economic and Social Research Institute, Dublin)

  • Bergin, Adele

    () (ESRI, Dublin)

  • Whelan, Adele

    () (ESRI, Dublin)


This paper examines patterns in overeducation between countries using a specifically designed panel dataset constructed from the quarterly Labour Force Surveys of 28 EU countries over a twelve to fifteen year period. It is not the case that overeducation has been rising rapidly over time in all countries and where overeducation has grown the trend has been very gradual. Furthermore, overeducation rates were found to be static or falling in approximately fifty percent of the 28 EU countries. The evidence points towards convergence in overeducation at a rate of 3.3 percent per annum. In terms of the determinants of overeducation we find evidence to support policies aimed at improving effective female participation, labour market flexibility and the practical aspects of educational provision as a means of reducing the incidence of overeducation within countries.

Suggested Citation

  • McGuinness, Seamus & Bergin, Adele & Whelan, Adele, 2017. "Overeducation in Europe: Trends, Convergence and Drivers," IZA Discussion Papers 10678, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  • Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp10678

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Séamus McGuinness, 2006. "Overeducation in the Labour Market," Journal of Economic Surveys, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 20(3), pages 387-418, July.
    2. repec:eme:rleczz:s0147-912120170000045003 is not listed on IDEAS
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    4. Verhaest Dieter & Velden Rolf van der, 2010. "Cross-country differences in graduate overeducation and its persistence," ROA Research Memorandum 007, Maastricht University, Research Centre for Education and the Labour Market (ROA).
    5. 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.
    6. McGuinness, Seamus & Sloane, Peter J., 2011. "Labour market mismatch among UK graduates: An analysis using REFLEX data," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 30(1), pages 130-145, February.
    7. Daron Acemoglu, 1998. "Why Do New Technologies Complement Skills? Directed Technical Change and Wage Inequality," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 113(4), pages 1055-1089.
    8. Frenette, Marc, 2004. "The overqualified Canadian graduate: the role of the academic program in the incidence, persistence, and economic returns to overqualification," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 23(1), pages 29-45, February.
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    10. Seamus McGuinness & Konstantinos Pouliakas, 2017. "Deconstructing Theories of Overeducation in Europe: A Wage Decomposition Approach," Research in Labor Economics,in: Skill Mismatch in Labor Markets, volume 45, pages 81-127 Emerald Publishing Ltd.
    11. McGoldrick, KimMarie & Robst, John, 1996. "Gender Differences in Overeducation: A Test of the Theory of Differential Overqualification," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 86(2), pages 280-284, May.
    12. McGuinness Seamus & Whelan Adele & Bergin Adele, 2016. "Is There a Role for Higher Education Institutions in Improving the Quality of First Employment?," The B.E. Journal of Economic Analysis & Policy, De Gruyter, vol. 16(4), pages 1-15, October.
    13. McGuinness, Seamus & Wooden, Mark, 2007. "Overskilling, Job Insecurity and Career Mobility," IZA Discussion Papers 2938, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
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    17. Giuseppe Croce & Emanuela Ghignoni, 2012. "Demand and Supply of Skilled Labour and Overeducation in Europe: A Country-level Analysis," Comparative Economic Studies, Palgrave Macmillan;Association for Comparative Economic Studies, vol. 54(2), pages 413-439, June.
    18. Davia, Maria A. & McGuinness, Seamus & O'Connell, Philip J., 2016. "Determinants of Regional Differences in Rates of Overeducation in Europe," IZA Discussion Papers 10250, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    19. Manuel Arellano & Stephen Bond, 1991. "Some Tests of Specification for Panel Data: Monte Carlo Evidence and an Application to Employment Equations," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 58(2), pages 277-297.
    20. Baert, Stijn & Verhaest, Dieter, 2014. "Unemployment or Overeducation: Which is a Worse Signal to Employers?," IZA Discussion Papers 8312, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
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    More about this item


    overeducation; dynamic panel data;

    JEL classification:

    • I2 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education
    • C23 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Single Equation Models; Single Variables - - - Models with Panel Data; Spatio-temporal Models

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