Book/Report Chapter

Youth overeducation in Europe

January 10, 2019

Jacqueline O'Reilly et al (Eds.), Youth labor in transition: Inequalities, mobility, and policies in Europe, 2019, chapter 4, pp. 530-559

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Overeducation describes the situation in which individuals are employed in jobs for which the level of education required to either get or do the jobs in question is below the level of schooling held by the workers. Overeducation has become an increasingly important issue for discussion both within national governments and at the European and Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) levels, and policymakers have become ever more concerned about the apparent inability of large shares of new labor market entrants to acquire jobs that are commensurate with their levels of education. Overeducation is costly at an individual level, with mismatched workers typically earning 15% less than their well- matched counterparts with similar levels of education. Furthermore, overeducation tends to reduce levels of job satisfaction and increase rates of job mobility (for a review of the evidence, see Quintini 2011). At the firm level, although there is some evidence that overeducated workers raise productivity levels somewhat,1 higher rates of job mobility imply that overeducation can impose additional hiring costs on firms. At the macroeconomic level, total output will be lower as a consequence of a significant proportion of the workforce operating below their full potential productivity, while public finances are adversely affected as a consequence of lower income tax receipts and suboptimal investments in educational provision. Given the various impacts of overeducation, it is extremely important to assess the evolution of its rates over time (both within and between countries) so as to develop our understanding of the phenomenon and ascertain the extent to which policies combating overeducation can be coordinated at a European level or whether country- specific responses are likely to be more appropriate.

Publication Details


Oxford University Press

Place of Publication

New York

Date of Publication

January 10, 2019

ESRI Series

Book/Report Chapter 201905


© Oxford University Press 2019

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