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The Theory of Differential Overqualification: Does it Work?

  • Büchel, Felix

    (Max Planck Institute for Human Development)

  • Battu, Harminder

    ()

    (University of Aberdeen)

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    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.

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    File URL: http://ftp.iza.org/dp511.pdf
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    Paper provided by Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA) in its series IZA Discussion Papers with number 511.

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    Length: 27 pages
    Date of creation: Jun 2002
    Date of revision:
    Publication status: published in: Scottish Journal of Political Economy, 2003, 50 (1), 1-16
    Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp511
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    1. Mincer, Jacob, 1978. "Family Migration Decisions," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 86(5), pages 749-73, October.
    2. Sandell, Steven H, 1977. "Women and the Economics of Family Migration," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 59(4), pages 406-14, November.
    3. Battu, H. & Seaman, P.T & Sloane, P.J., . "Are Married Women Spatially Constrained? A test of gender differentials in labour market outcomes," Working Papers 98-07, Department of Economics, University of Aberdeen.
    4. Nachum Sicherman, 1987. "Over-Education in the Labor Market," University of Chicago - George G. Stigler Center for Study of Economy and State 48, Chicago - Center for Study of Economy and State.
    5. 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 280-84, May.
    6. 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 360-73, June.
    7. Oosterbeek, Hessel, 2000. "Introduction to special issue on overschooling," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 19(2), pages 129-130, April.
    8. 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.
    9. Topel, Robert H, 1986. "Local Labor Markets," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 94(3), pages S111-43, June.
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