Monday, November 10, 2008

Does Skills Mismatch Lower Returns to Education?

A new IZA discussion paper by Nordin, Persson and Rooth (Education-Occupation Mismatch: Is There an Income Penalty?) "adds to the small literature on the consequences of education-occupation mismatches." The consequences of skills-matching and the measurement of skills-matching are issues that have been discussed on this blog a fair bit recently.

Nordin, Persson and Rooth use microdata from Statistics Sweden, but are forced to drop 36 percent of their sample due to restrictions on fields of education to well-defined categories. The authors state that this approach is necessary because some fields of education (e.g. in the humanities and languages) are either vague or cannot easily be matched with any specific occupation. Also, the authors exclude a further 11 percent of their sample because of missing occupation data. One way around these problems might be to use self-rated measures of skill-matching, from which wage penalties might be more accurately estimated.

Nordin, Persson and Rooth focus on the income penalty for field of education-occupation mismatches; they find that the penalty for such mismatches is large for both men and women. They also find that it is substantially larger than has been found for the US. Interestingly, the authors also control for cognitive ability and find that the "income penalty is not caused by ability, at least for Swedish men." The income penalty for men decreases with work experience which the authors suggest is an indication that education-specific skills and work experience are substitutes to some extent. "There is no evidence, though, that the mismatched individuals move to a matching occupation over time. Thus, for some, the income penalty seems to be permanent."

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