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The Theory of Differential Overqualification: Does it Work?

Author

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  • Büchel, Felix

    (Max Planck Institute for Human Development)

  • Battu, Harminder

    () (University of Aberdeen)

Abstract

The theory of differential overqualification, developed by Robert Frank (1978), claims that married women in smaller labor markets have a higher risk of working in jobs for which they are overqualified. This stems from the problem of dual job search for couples which is much more difficult to optimize than single job search. Here, for several reasons husbands tend to first optimize their individual job search. Their wives are "tied movers" or "tied stayers" in the sense that their job search is undertaken under the condition that the job search of their husbands is optimized. This leads especially in smaller labor markets to a higher risk of a mismatch between formal qualifications and job requirements. The only specific empirical test of this theory, until now, has been performed by McGoldrick and Robst (1996). Their results, using US data, do not support the theory. Using German panel data (GSOEP), we also test the theory of differential overqualification. Unlike previous studies we control for commuting distances and our own results provide some mixed support for the differential overqualification hypothesis.

Suggested Citation

  • Büchel, Felix & Battu, Harminder, 2002. "The Theory of Differential Overqualification: Does it Work?," IZA Discussion Papers 511, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  • Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp511
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Battu, H. & Seaman, P.T & Sloane, P.J., "undated". "Are Married Women Spatially Constrained? A test of gender differentials in labour market outcomes," Working Papers 98-07, Department of Economics, University of Aberdeen.
    2. Oosterbeek, Hessel, 2000. "Introduction to special issue on overschooling," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 19(2), pages 129-130, April.
    3. Mincer, Jacob, 1978. "Family Migration Decisions," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 86(5), pages 749-773, October.
    4. Sandell, Steven H, 1977. "Women and the Economics of Family Migration," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 59(4), pages 406-414, November.
    5. Ofek, Haim & Merrill, Yesook, 1997. "Labor Immobility and the Formation of Gender Wage Gaps in Local Markets," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 35(1), pages 28-47, January.
    6. Topel, Robert H, 1986. "Local Labor Markets," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 94(3), pages 111-143, June.
    7. Frank, Robert H, 1978. "Why Women Earn Less: The Theory and Estimation of Differential Overqualification," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 68(3), pages 360-373, June.
    8. 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.
    9. Sicherman, Nachum, 1991. ""Overeducation" in the Labor Market," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 9(2), pages 101-122, April.
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    Cited by:

    1. Christina Boll & Julian Sebastian Leppin, 2016. "Differential Overeducation in East and West Germany: Extending Frank's Theory on Economic Returns Changes the Picture of Disadvantaged Women," LABOUR, CEIS, vol. 30(4), pages 455-504, December.
    2. Aniela Wirz, 2004. "To my wife, with love! Does within-household specialisation explain husband's better job-education-match?," KOF Working papers 04-93, KOF Swiss Economic Institute, ETH Zurich.
    3. Boll, Christina & Leppin, Julian Sebastian, 2013. "Unterwertige Beschäftigung von Akademikerinnen und Akademikern: Umfang, Ursachen, Einkommenseffekte und Beitrag zur geschlechtsspezifischen Lohnlücke," HWWI Policy Papers 75, Hamburg Institute of International Economics (HWWI).

    More about this item

    Keywords

    overqualification; regional migration; marriage; gender;

    JEL classification:

    • I21 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Analysis of Education
    • J16 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Economics of Gender; Non-labor Discrimination
    • J24 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Human Capital; Skills; Occupational Choice; Labor Productivity
    • J61 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Mobility, Unemployment, Vacancies, and Immigrant Workers - - - Geographic Labor Mobility; Immigrant Workers

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