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A Mismatch Made in Heaven: A Hedonic Analysis of Overeducation and Undereducation

Listed author(s):
  • Daniel P. McMillen

    (University of Illinois at Chicago)

  • Paul T. Seaman

    (Department of Economic Studies University of Dundee)

  • Larry D. Singell

    (University of Oregon Economics Department)

Prior work suggests coordination failure between labour and education markets leads some workers to have educational qualifications in excess of those specified for the job (overeducation) and others to have less (undereducation). This paper empirically models and tests the hypothesis that overeducation and undereducation arise out of a hedonic matching process that maximises net benefits to workers and firms over the life of the match. Specifically, the overeducated begin in low-paying, entry-level jobs early in their careers that prepare them for higher-paying future positions that require their educational background, whereas the undereducated start in lower-paying, exactly-educated jobs that can signal skills necessary for promotion. The empirical model shows that, because all workers are exactly-educated during at least a portion of their career, the type of educational match cannot be directly identified using a cross-section, but may be imputed from the differences between predicted and observed qualifications of the worker and predicted and observed requirements of the firm. The empirical analysis uses a rich cross-section of British working-age males to identify match types. Using contemporaneous, forward- and backward-looking data, we confirm that over and undereducated matches differ in their on-the-job training and promotion opportunities, which yield a trade-off in the pre- versus post-match return to human capital.

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Paper provided by University of Oregon Economics Department in its series University of Oregon Economics Department Working Papers with number 2004-1.

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Length: 31
Date of creation: 01 Dec 2003
Date of revision: 01 Dec 2003
Handle: RePEc:ore:uoecwp:2004-1
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