Social Indicators Research

, Volume 144, Issue 3, pp 1273–1301 | Cite as

Factors Associated with Overeducation Among Recent Graduates During Labour Market Integration: The Case of Catalonia (Spain)

  • Joaquin Turmo-GaruzEmail author
  • M.-Teresa Bartual-Figueras
  • Francisco-Javier Sierra-Martinez
Original Research


Overeducation has usually been considered a phenomenon brought about during integration into the labour market. There is no single explanation, but rather several factors that are associated with overeducation. We analyse overeducation among graduates in Catalonia 4 years after finishing their degrees. The analysis is based on the self-assessment made by workers in surveys conducted by AQU (Catalan University Quality Assurance Agency) between 2008 and 2014 and we use logit and probit statistical models to determine the probability of a graduate being overeducated, depending on a wide range of economic, sociological, technological and academic variables. We use the Heckman methodology in the analysis. This study corroborates the results of previous studies on the relationship between wages, job satisfaction and overeducation. In addition, the results show, firstly, differences in levels of overeducation between different fields of study, most notably between ‘Humanities and Arts’ and ‘Health Sciences’. Secondly, the results reveal the impact of the economic cycle on overeducation. Thirdly, the variables used in the statistical model exhibit stable behaviour and, as a result, they provide an explanation for overeducation as a structural phenomenon, regardless of the economic situation. Furthermore, other variables show a significant relationship with signalling theory and career mobility theory, which both explain the overeducation phenomenon. We especially emphasise the role of professional career development during undergraduate studies. Additionally, we found that the family socio-economic environment is relevant in explaining overeducation and, lastly, technological factors and aspects of the graduates’ work environment also contribute to explaining the phenomenon.


Overeducation University graduates Labour market integration 



The authors are grateful to the Institut de Desenvolupament Professional (IDP-ICE) of the University of Barcelona for financial support through the Grant REDICE 2016-1200, ACCIO16 AND REDICE18-2180, wich has made this work possible.


  1. Acemoglu, D. (1998). Why do new technologies complement skills? Direct technical change and wage inequality. The Quarterly Journal of Economics, 113(4), 1055–1089.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Acemoglu, D. (2002). Technical change, Inequality and the labor market. Journal of Economic Literature, 40(1), 7–72.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Alba-Ramirez, A. (1993). Mismatch in the Spanish Labor Market: Overeducation? Journal of Human Resources, 27(2), 259–278.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Allen, J., & van der Velden, R. (2001). Educational Mismatches versus Skill Mismatches: Effects on Wages, Job Satisfaction and On-the-Job Search. Oxford Economic Papers, 53(3), 434–452.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Arrow, K. (1973). Higher education as a filter. Journal of Public Economics, 2, 193–216.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Autor, D., Levy, F., & Murnane, R. (2003). The skill content of recent technological change: An empirical exploration. The Quarterly Journal of Economics, 118(4), 1279–1333.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Baert, S., Cockx, B., & Verhaest, D. (2013). Overeducation at the start of career: Stepping stone or trap? Labor Economics, 25, 123–140.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Barone, C., & Ortiz, L. (2011). Overeducation among European University Graduates: A comparative analysis of its incidence and the importance of higher education differentiation. Higher Education, 61, 325–337.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Becker, G. (1964). Human capital. A theoretical and empirical analysis with special reference to education. New York: Columbia University Press.Google Scholar
  10. Berg, I. (1970). Education and jobs: The great training robbery. New York: Praeger Publishers.Google Scholar
  11. Büchel, F., & Mertens, A. (2004). Overeducation, undereducation, and the theory of career mobility. Applied Economics. Scholar
  12. Capsada-Munsech, Q. (2015). The role of social origin and field of study on graduates’ overeducation: The case of Italy. Higher Education, 69, 779–807.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Capsada-Munsech, Q. (2017). Overeducation: Concept, theories, and empirical evidence. Sociology Compass. Scholar
  14. Caroleo, F. & Pastore, F. (2013). Overeducation at a glance: Determinants and wage effects of the education mismatch, looking at the AlmaLaurea Data. IZA Discussion Paper, no 7788. Accessed November 20, 2017.
  15. Caroleo, F., & Pastore, F. (2017). Overeducation at a glance. Determinants and wage effects of the education mismatch base don AlmaLaurea data. Social Indicators Research, 137, 999–1032. Scholar
  16. Chevalier, A. (2000). Graduate Overeducation in the U.K. Centre of Economics of Education. London: London School of Economics and Political Science.Google Scholar
  17. Chevalier, A. (2003). Mesuring Over-education. Economica, 70, 509–531.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Clark, B., Joubert, C. & Maurel, A. (2014). The career prospects of overeducated Americans. NBER Working Paper Series. Accessed November 15, 2017.
  19. Di Pietro, G. (2002). Technological change, labor markets and low-skill, low-technology traps. Technological and Social Change. Scholar
  20. Di Stasio, V., Bol, T., & Van de Werfhorst, H. G. (2016). What makes education positional? Institutions, overeducation and the competition for jobs. Research in Social Stratification and Mobility, 43, 53–63. Scholar
  21. Diem, A. (2015). Overeducation among graduates from universities of applied sciences: Determinants and consequences. Journal of Economic and Financial Studies. Scholar
  22. Doeringer, P., & Piore, M. (1971). Internal labor markets and Manpower analysis. Lexington DC: Heath and Co.Google Scholar
  23. Dolton, P., & Vignoles, A. (2000). The incidence and effects of overeducation in the UK graduate labour market. Economics of Education Review, 19, 179–198.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Duncan, G., & Hoffman, S. (1981). The incidence and wage effects of overeducation. Economics of Education Review, 1(1), 75–86.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Erdsiek, D. (2016). Overeducation of graduates: Assessing the role of family background. Journal for Labour Market Research. Scholar
  26. Ermini, B., Papi, L., & Scaturro, F. (2017). An analysis of the determinants of over-education among Italian Ph.D. graduates. Italian Economic Journal, 3, 167–207. Scholar
  27. Fleming, C., & Kler, P. (2008). I’m too clever for this job: A bivariate probit analysis on overeducation and job satisfaction in Australia. Applied Economics. Scholar
  28. Freeman, R. (1976). The Overeducated American. New York: Academic Press.Google Scholar
  29. Freeman, R. (1978). Job satisfaction as an economic variable. The American Economic Review, 68(2), 135–141.Google Scholar
  30. Gaeta, J. L. (2015). Was it worth it? An empirical analysis of over-education among PhD recipients in Italy. International Journal of Social Economics. Scholar
  31. García Montalvo, J. (1995). Empleo y sobrecualificación: el caso español. Madrid: FEDEA, Documento de Trabajo 95-20.Google Scholar
  32. García Montalvo, J. (2009). La inserción laboral de los universitarios y el fenómeno de la sobrecualificación. Papeles de Economía Española, 119, 172–187.Google Scholar
  33. García Montalvo, J. & Peiró, J. M. (2009). Análisis de la sobrecualificación y la flexibilidad laboral. Observatorio de inserción laboral de los jóvenes 2008. Valencia: IVIE.Google Scholar
  34. Ghignoni, E., & Verashchagina, A. (2014). Educational qualifications mismatch in Europe. Is it demand or supply driven? Journal of Comparative Economics. Scholar
  35. Green, F., & Zhu, Y. (2010). Overqualification, job dissatisfaction, and increasing dispersión in the returns to graduate education. Oxford University Papers. Scholar
  36. Hair, J., Anderson, R., Tatham, R., & Black, W. (1999). Análisis multivariante. Madrid: Prentice Hall Iberia.Google Scholar
  37. Hartog, J. (2000). Overeducation and earnings: Where are we, where should we go? Economics of Education Review, 19(2), 131–147.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Hartog, J., & Oosterbeek, H. (1988). Education, allocation and earnings in the Netherlands: Overschooling? Economics of Education Review, 7(2), 185–194.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Heckman, J. J. (1979). Sample selection bias as a specification error. Econometrica, 47(I), 153–162.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Hersh, J. (1991). Education match and job match. Review of Economic and Statistics, 73(1), 140–144.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Iriondo, I., & Pérez-Amaral, T. (2016). The effect of educational mismatch on wages in Europe. Journal of Policy Modeling. Scholar
  42. Katz, L., & Murphy, K. (1992). Changes in relative wages, 1963–1987: Supply and demand factors. The Quarterly Journal of Economics, 107(1), 35–78.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Kucel, A., & Vilalta-Bufí, M. (2013). Job satisfaction of university graduates. Revista de Economía Aplicada, 61(21), 29–55.Google Scholar
  44. Leuven, E. & Oosterbeek, H. (2011). Overeducation and mismatch in the labor market, IZA Discussion Paper n 5523. Accessed November 24, 2017.
  45. McGuinness, S. (2006). Overeducation in the labour market. Journal of Economic Surveys, 20(3), 387–418.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Mincer, J. (1974). Schooling, experience and earnings. New York: Columbia University Press.Google Scholar
  47. Nieto, S., & Ramos, R. (2017). Overeducation, skills and wage penalty: Evidence for Spain using PIAA data. Social Indicators Research. Scholar
  48. OECD. (2006). Innovation and knowledge-intensive service activities. Paris: OECD.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. OECD. (2017). Education at a glance. Paris: OECD.Google Scholar
  50. Pareja-Eastaway, M., & Turmo-Garuz, J. (2013). La necesaria transformación del modelo productivo en España: el papel del territorio. Documents D’Anàlisi Geogràfica, 59(3), 455–479.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Passaretta, G., & Triventi, M. (2015). Work experience during higher education and post-graduation occupational outcomes: A comparative study on four European countries. International Journal of Comparative Sociology, 56(3–4), 232–253. Scholar
  52. Pineda-Herrero, P., Agud-Morell, I., & Ciraso-Cali, A. (2016). Factors intervening in the entrance into labour market of graduates in Education Science during crisis. A study in Catalonia. Revista de Educación, 372, 141–168. Scholar
  53. Reig, E. (2017). La competitividad de las regions españolas ante la economía del conocimiento. Fundación BBVA: Bilbao.Google Scholar
  54. Robst, J. (1995). Career mobility, job match, and overeducation. Eastern Economic Journal, 21, 539–550.Google Scholar
  55. Rubb, S. (2003). Overeducation in the labor market: A comment and re-analysis of a meta-analysis. Economic of Education Review. Scholar
  56. Rubb, S. (2005). Overeducation, undereducation, and the theory of career mobility: A comment and a note on underemployment. Applied Economics Letters. Scholar
  57. Rumberger, R. W. (1987). The impact of surplus schooling on productivity and earnings. Journal of Human Resources, 22(1), 24–50.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  58. Sicherman, N., & Galor, O. (1990). A theory of career mobility. Journal of Political Economy, 98(1), 169–192.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  59. Smith, J. & Welch, F. (1978). The overeducated American? A review article. Santa Monica, CA: RAND Corporation. Accessed October 15, 2017.
  60. Spence, M. (1973). Job market signaling. The Quarterly Journal of Economics, 87(3), 355–374.Google Scholar
  61. Summerfield, F., & Theodossian, I. (2017). The effects of macroeconomic conditions at graduation on overeducation. Economic Inquiry, 55(3), 1370–1387. Scholar
  62. Tan, E. (2014). Human capital theory: A holistic criticism. Review of Educational Research, 84(3), 411–445. Scholar
  63. Thenuwara, W., & Morgan, B. (2016). Labour supply behaviour of married women in Toronto. Journal of Economic Studies, 43(3), 418–431. Scholar
  64. Thurow, L. (1975). Generating inequality. New York: Basic.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  65. Vatta, K., Sato, T., & Taneja, G. (2016). Indian labour markets and returns to education. Millenial Asia, 7(2), 107–130. Scholar
  66. Verdugo, R., & Verdugo, N. (1989). The impact of surplus schooling on earnings: Some additional findings. Journal of Human Resources, XXIV(4), 629–643.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  67. Verhaest, D., & Omey, E. (2006). The impact of overeducation and its measurement. Social Indicators Research. Scholar
  68. Verhaest, D., & Omey, E. (2009). Objective overeducation and worker well-being: A shadow price approach. Journal of Economic Psychology. Scholar
  69. Verhaest, D., & Omey, E. (2010). The determinants of overeducation: Different measures, different outcomes? International Journal of Manpower. Scholar
  70. Verhaest, D., Sellami, S., & van der Velden, R. (2017). Differences in horizontal and vertical mismatches across countries and fields of study. International Labour Review, 156(1), 1–23.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  71. Verhaest, D., & Verhofstadt, E. (2016). Overeducation and job satisfaction: The role of job demands and control. International Journal of Manpower. Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Nature B.V. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.CRIT – Research Group, Department of EconomyUniversitat de BarcelonaBarcelonaSpain
  2. 2.Department of Econometrics, Statistics and Applied EconomicsUniversitat de BarcelonaBarcelonaSpain

Personalised recommendations