Special edition 2018

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HWWI Research Paper

Patterns of overeducation in Europe: The role of field of study

By Christina Boll, Anja Rossen, André Wolf

This study investigates the incidence of overeducation among graduate workers in 21 EU countries and its underlying factors based on the European Labor Force Survey 2016 (EU-LFS). Although controlling for a wide range of covariates, the particular interest lies in the role of fields of study for vertical educational mismatch. The study reveals country and gender differences in the impact of these factors. Compared to Social Sciences, male graduates from e.g. Education, Health and Welfare, Engineering, and ICT are less and those from e.g. Services and Natural Sciences are more at risk in a clear majority of countries. These findings hold for the majority of countries and are robust against a change of the standard education. However, countries show different gendered patterns of fieldspecific risks. We suggest that occupational closure, productivity signals and gender stereotypes answer for these cross-field and cross-country differentials. Moreover, country fixed effects point to relevant structural differences between national labour markets and between educational Systems. 

Keywords: Field of study, college major, overeducation, vertical mismatch, gender, realized matches, household context, EU countries, Labour Force Survey

JEL Classification: J24, J21, J22

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