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Overeducation, undereducation, and the theory of career mobility

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The theory of career mobility (Sicherman and Galor, Journal of Political Economy , 98 (1), 169-92, 1990) claims that wage penalties for overeducated workers are compensated by better promotion prospects. Sicherman ( Journal of Labour Economics , 9 (2), 101-22, 1991) was able to confirm this theory in an empirical study using panel data. However, the only retest using panel data so far (Robst, Eastern Economic Journal , 21 , 539-50, 1995 ) produced rather ambiguous results. In the present paper, random effects models to analyse relative wage growth are estimated using data from the German Socio-Economic Panel. It is found that overeducated workers in Germany have markedly lower relative wage growth rates than adequately educated workers. The results cast serious doubt on whether the career mobility model is able to explain overeducation in Germany. The plausibility of the results is supported by the finding that overeducated workers have less access to formal and informal on-the-job training, which is usually found to be positively correlated with wage growth even when controlling for selectivity effects (Pischke, Journal of Population Economics , 14 , 523-48, 2001).
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2004-05-01

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