The purpose of this paper is to analyze the relationship between education, job aspirations and subjective well-being. This analysis is done across the entire well-being distribution and taking account of educational mismatches that could condition individuals’ satisfaction if education generates certain aspirations which are not met by the individuals.
Using data from the European Social Survey, a quantile regression model is estimated. This approach allows one to assess the impact of the education variables at different points of the happiness conditional distribution.
The results are consistent with the hypothesis that the impact of education on subjective well-being varies across the distribution, with education effects lower at the top of the happiness distribution. It is also found that education generates certain aspirations among individuals in regard to the job they expect to hold and that people suffer a psychological cost when those aspirations are not met. This “aspiration mechanism” seems however to weaken as one moves along the distribution.
The central contribution of this paper lies in the treatment of job aspirations through different variables of educational mismatch. Although rising aspirations have often been highlighted as the main mechanism that could explain the weak relationship between education and subjective well-being, this mechanism has barely been analyzed empirically. Moreover, the effects of educational mismatch on individual satisfaction have only been analyzed at the mean of the conditional distribution. The value of this study is therefore twofold, focussing on the analysis across the entire well-being distribution of the aspiration mechanism generated by education in regard to the job an individual expects to hold.
JEL Classification — I20, J24, J62
Maria del Mar Salinas-Jiménez acknowledges financial support from a research project by the Regional Government of Extremadura (IB13106).
Salinas-Jiménez, M., Artés, J. and Salinas-Jiménez, J. (2016), "Educational mismatch and job aspirations: A subjective wellbeing analysis using quantile regression", International Journal of Manpower, Vol. 37 No. 1, pp. 115-134. https://doi.org/10.1108/IJM-12-2014-0266Download as .RIS
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