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Educational mismatch in Europe at the turn of the century: Measurement, intensity and evolution

Rafael Muñoz de Bustillo Llorente (Department of Applied Economics, Universidad de Salamanca, Salamanca, Spain)
Sudipa Sarkar (Institute for Employment Research, University of Warwick, Coventry, UK)
Raquel Sebastian (San Pablo CEU University, Madrid, Spain)
Jose-Ignacio Antón (Department of Applied Economics, Faculty of Law, University of Salamanca, Salamanca, Spain)

International Journal of Manpower

ISSN: 0143-7720

Article publication date: 5 November 2018




The purpose of this paper is to present the stylised facts of over-education among European graduates over time (1998–2013), paying special attention to the measurement issues.


The authors use two different sources, the Programme for the International Assessment of Adult Competencies 2012, and the European Union Labour Force Survey 1998–2013, with two different aims. The authors employ the first one to make a detailed analysis of the different forms of measuring over-education and its implications in terms of the result obtained. The analysis of the second one responds to studying the evolution and characteristics of over-education in Europe.


In the first place, the paper provides evidence of the high level of sensitivity of the level of measured over-education to the type of methodology used. Such difference is even higher when the authors focus on skills vs educational mismatch. The work also shows how with all their shortcomings, the measures of over-education used in the analysis point to the existence of convergence in over-education levels among the European countries of the sample (only interrupted by the crisis), in a context of reduction of over-education rates in many countries.

Practical implications

Researchers should be particularly careful when estimating over-education, because of the strong implications in terms of the so different results obtained when choosing between competing methods.


The analysis abounds in the implications of the use of different methodologies of estimating over-education in terms of both size and ranking among European countries. The production of long-run and updated estimates of over-education for a large sample of countries is done using a homogenous database and different estimation methods.



The authors thank two anonymous referees for comments on an earlier version of the paper. Financial support of the Eduworks Marie Curie Initial Training Network Project (PITN-GA-2013-608311) of the European Commission’s 7th Framework Programme is gratefully acknowledged. José-Ignacio Antón also thanks the financial support from the NORFACE research project “GIWeS-Globalisation, Institutions and the Welfare State”.


Muñoz de Bustillo Llorente, R., Sarkar, S., Sebastian, R. and Antón, J.-I. (2018), "Educational mismatch in Europe at the turn of the century: Measurement, intensity and evolution", International Journal of Manpower, Vol. 39 No. 8, pp. 977-995.



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