Overeducation in the Labor Market: A Comment and Re-Analysis of a Meta-Analysis

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Groot and Maassen Groot and Maassen van den Brink (International Journal of Manpower 21, 584, 2000a) provide a useful summary of the incidence of overeducation and undereducation. Unfortunately, by combining non-compatible estimates of the impact of surplus schooling (and under schooling) on earnings they potentially bias their estimates downward (upward). This paper bypasses this potential bias by examining only wage estimates that use the “standard” required-surplus-deficit education model of Duncan and Hoffman (1981). The paper also expands the meta-analysis by including approximately 50 additional wage estimates. On average, the literature finds that the premium paid for overeducation is approximately equal to the penalty for undereducation, but lower than the returns associated with an increase in required education. Overeducated individuals earn more than their properly educated co-workers, but less than others with their level of schooling. The paper also examines how different definitions of required education impact the returns from overeducation and undereducation.


Published: Rubb, Stephen. "Overeducation in the Labor Market: A Comment and Re-Analysis of a Meta-Analysis." Economics of Education Review 22.6 (2003): 621-629.