De Economist

, Volume 163, Issue 2, pp 233–262 | Cite as

Educational Mismatch and Firm Productivity: Do Skills, Technology and Uncertainty Matter?

  • Benoît Mahy
  • François Rycx
  • Guillaume Vermeylen


The authors provide first evidence on whether the direct relationship between educational mismatch and firm productivity varies across working environments. Using detailed Belgian linked employer–employee panel data for 1999–2010, they find the existence of a significant, positive (negative) impact of over- (under-)education on firm productivity. Moreover, their results show that the effect of over-education on productivity is stronger among firms: (i) with a higher share of high-skilled jobs, (ii) belonging to high-tech/knowledge-intensive industries, and (iii) evolving in a more uncertain economic environment. Interaction effects between under-education and working environments are less clear-cut. However, economic uncertainty is systematically found to accentuate the detrimental effect of under-education on productivity.


Educational mismatch Productivity Linked employer–employee panel data Working environments 

JEL Classification

J21 J24 



The authors are most grateful to statistics Belgium for giving access to the data. They also would like to thank Rob Alessie (the Editor), two anonymous referees, Mirella Damiani, Muriel Dejemeppe, Seamus McGuinness, Fabrizio Pompei, Bruno Van der Linden, Vincent Vandenberghe, Francesco Venturi, Mélanie Volral and participants at the 10th annual Conference of the CNRS institute TEPP on ‘Research on Health and Labour’ (Le Mans, France, 2013), the ZEW Workshop on ‘Skill Mismatch: Microeconomic Evidence and Macroeconomic Relevance’ (Mannheim, Germany, 2014), the Society of Labor Economists (SOLE) Annual Conference (Arlington, United States, 2014), the BELSPO-IRES Workshop on ‘Firm-Level Analysis of Labour Issues’ (Louvain-la-Neuve, Belgium, 2014), and research seminars at IRES (Louvain-la-Neuve, Belgium, 2014) and the Economics’ Department of the University of Perugia (Perugia, Italy, 2014) for very useful comments on an earlier version of this article. Funding for this research was provided by the Walloon Region (IPRA Research Grant, IWEPS). François Rycx gratefully acknowledges financial support from the Belgian Federal Science Policy Office (BELSPO): SPP Politique Scientifique, programme “Société et Avenir”, Employment, Wage Discrimination, and Poverty , Research contract TA/00/046/EDIPO.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Benoît Mahy
    • 1
    • 5
  • François Rycx
    • 2
    • 3
  • Guillaume Vermeylen
    • 1
    • 4
    • 6
  1. 1.HumanOrg and Warocqué School of Business and EconomicsUniversity of MonsMonsBelgium
  2. 2.SBS-EM (CEB and DULBEA), Université Libre de BruxellesBrusselsBelgium
  3. 3.IZABonnGermany
  4. 4.Walloon Institute for Evaluation, Prospective and Statistics (IWEPS)BelgradeBelgium
  5. 5.DULBEA, Université Libre de BruxellesBrusselsBelgium
  6. 6.CEB and DULBEA, Université Libre de BruxellesBrusselsBelgium

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