Educational Mismatch: Are High-Skilled Immigrants Really Working at High-Skilled Jobs and the Price They Pay If They Aren’t?

Barry Chiswick 1, Paul Miller2
1University of Illinois at Chicago, USA, 2Universaity of Western Australia, Australia

This paper examines the incidence of the mismatch of the educational attainment and the occupation of employment, and the impact of this mismatch on the earnings, of high-skilled adult male immigrants in the US labor market. Analyses for high-skilled adult male nativeborn workers are also presented for comparison purposes. The results show that overeducation is widespread in the high-skilled US labor market, both for immigrants and the native born. The extent of over-education declines with duration in the US as high-skilled immigrants obtain jobs commensurate with their educational level. Years of schooling that are above that which is usual for a worker’s occupation are associated with very low increases in earnings. Indeed, in the first 10 to 20 years in the US years of over-education among high-skilled workers have a negative effect on earnings. This ineffective use of surplus education appears across all occupations and high-skilled education levels. Although schooling serves as a pathway to occupational attainment, earnings appear to be more closely linked to a worker’s occupation than to the individual’s level of schooling.

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