Ruhr Economic Papers

Ruhr Economic Papers #687

Occupational Mismatch of Immigrants in Europe: The Role of Education and Cognitive Skills

by Merve Cim, Michael Kind and Jan Kleibrink

RGS, RWI, UDE, 04/2017, 36 S./p., 8 Euro, ISBN 978-3-86788-797-7 DOI: 10.4419/86788797



Occupational mismatch is a wide-spread phenomenon among immigrants in many European countries. Mismatch, predominantly measured in terms of education, is often regarded as a waste of human capital. Such discussions, however, ignore the imperfect comparability of international educational degrees when comparing immigrants to natives. An accurate analysis of occupational mismatch requires looking beyond internationally incomparable educational degrees and considering more comparable skill measures. Using PIAAC data, it is possible to exploit internationally comparable cognitive skill measures to analyze the presence of mismatch disparities between immigrants and natives. This allows us to examine whether overeducation implies only an apparent phenomenon or rather a genuine overqualification observed also in the form of cognitive overskilling. In this study, we analyze differences in the incidence of being overeducated and being cognitively overskilled between immigrants and natives in 11 European countries. Results show that immigrants are more likely to be overeducated than natives, while the opposite is true for being cognitively overskilled. Furthermore, significant heterogeneity among immigrants in the incidence of overeducation and cognitive overskilling can be detected.

JEL-Classification: I21, J15, J24, J71

Keywords: Occupational mismatch; migration; education; cognitive skills