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Overeducation, Job Competition and Unemployment

  • Muysken Joan
  • Weel Bas ter


The changing wage and employment structure in some OECD countries has beenattributed to increased levels of education and technical change in favour of skilledworkers. However, in the Netherlands and some other OECD countries the wages ofskilled workers did not rise, whereas investment in skills rose dramatically. This paperoffers a theory which is able to explain the dramatic increase in the level of education andskills without rising wages since the early 1980s. In this respect, we integrate the supplyside framework (human capital investments) and the demand side (containingendogenous skill upgrading as a result of job competition and screening) in a generalequilibrium model. In this way we provide a theory for the empirical observation ofrising unemployment levels among unskilled workers and rising employment levels ofskilled workers with relatively stable wages.

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Paper provided by Maastricht University, Maastricht Economic Research Institute on Innovation and Technology (MERIT) in its series Research Memorandum with number 030.

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Date of creation: 1999
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:unm:umamer:1999030
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  1. Berman, E. & Bound, J. & Machin, S., 1997. "Implications of Skill-Biased Technological Change: International Evidence," Papers 25, Centre for Economic Performance & Institute of Economics.
  2. Donald R. Davis & Trevor A. Reeve, 2000. "Human capital, unemployment, and relative wages in a global economy," International Finance Discussion Papers 659, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
  3. Layard, Richard & Nickell, Stephen & Jackman, Richard, 1991. "Unemployment: Macroeconomic Performance and the Labour Market," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780198284345.
  4. Carlin, Wendy & Soskice, David, 1990. "Macroeconomics and the Wage Bargain: A Modern Approach to Employment, Inflation, and the Exchange Rate," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780198772446.
  5. Olivier Jean Blanchard & Peter Diamond, 1992. "The Flow Approach to Labor Markets," NBER Working Papers 4000, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. Wasmer, Etienne, 1999. "Competition for Jobs in a Growing Economy and the Emergence of Dualism," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 109(457), pages 349-71, July.
  7. Pissarides, Christopher A, 1994. "Search Unemployment with On-the-Job Search," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 61(3), pages 457-75, July.
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  9. Daron Acemoglu, 1999. "Changes in Unemployment and Wage Inequality: An Alternative Theory and Some Evidence," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 89(5), pages 1259-1278, December.
  10. Machin, S. & Van Reenen, J., 1997. "Technology and Changes in Skill Structure: Evidence from Seven OECD Countries," Papers 24, Centre for Economic Performance & Institute of Economics.
  11. Mathias Dewatripont & Patrick Bolton, 1994. "The firm as a communication network," ULB Institutional Repository 2013/9595, ULB -- Universite Libre de Bruxelles.
  12. Muysken Joan & Sanders Mark & Zon Adriaan van, 1999. "Wage Divergence and Asymmetries in Unemployment in a Model with Biased Technical Change," Research Memorandum 019, Maastricht University, Maastricht Economic Research Institute on Innovation and Technology (MERIT).
  13. David Card & Francis Kramarz & Thomas Lemieux, 1996. "Changes in the Relative Structure of Wages and Employment: A Comparison of the United States, Canada, and France," NBER Working Papers 5487, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  14. Griliches, Zvi, 1969. "Capital-Skill Complementarity," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 51(4), pages 465-68, November.
  15. Swinkels, Jeroen M, 1999. "Education Signalling with Preemptive Offers," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 66(4), pages 949-70, October.
  16. Phelps, Edmund S & Zoega, Gylfi, 1998. "Natural-Rate Theory and OECD Unemployment," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 108(448), pages 782-801, May.
  17. Mark Sanders & Bas ter Weel, 2000. "Skill-Biased Technical Change Theoretical Concepts, Empirical Problems and a Survey of the Evidence," DRUID Working Papers 00-8, DRUID, Copenhagen Business School, Department of Industrial Economics and Strategy/Aalborg University, Department of Business Studies.
  18. Madsen, Jakob B, 1998. "General Equilibrium Macroeconomic Models of Unemployment: Can They Explain the Unemployment Path in the OECD?," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 108(448), pages 850-67, May.
  19. Steven G. Allen, 1996. "Technology and the Wage Structure," NBER Working Papers 5534, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  20. Layard, Richard & Nickell, Stephen, 1986. "Unemployment in Britain," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 53(210(S)), pages S121-69, Supplemen.
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  22. Mortensen, Dale T & Pissarides, Christopher A, 1994. "Job Creation and Job Destruction in the Theory of Unemployment," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 61(3), pages 397-415, July.
  23. Pissarides, C A, 1979. "Job Matchings with State Employment Agencies and Random Search," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 89(356), pages 818-33, December.
  24. repec:tpr:qjecon:v:113:y:1998:i:4:p:1169-1213 is not listed on IDEAS
  25. David Autor & Lawrence Katz & Alan Krueger, 1997. "Computing Inequality: Have Computers Changed the Labor Market?," Working Papers 756, Princeton University, Department of Economics, Industrial Relations Section..
  26. Davis, Donald R, 1998. "Does European Unemployment Prop Up American Wages? National Labor Markets and Global Trade," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 88(3), pages 478-94, June.
  27. Nickell, Stephen, 1998. "Unemployment: Questions and Some Answers," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 108(448), pages 802-16, May.
  28. Robert H. Topel, 1997. "Factor Proportions and Relative Wages: The Supply-Side Determinants of Wage Inequality," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 11(2), pages 55-74, Spring.
  29. Nickell, Stephen & Bell, Brian, 1995. "The Collapse in Demand for the Unskilled and Unemployment across the OECD," Oxford Review of Economic Policy, Oxford University Press, vol. 11(1), pages 40-62, Spring.
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