Overeducation: does workers’ personality play a role?

In Poland over 43% of young workers have higher level of education than needed to get his or her job. In the last IBS Working Paper, created as part of the “Youth Employment PartnerSHIP” project, Marta Palczyńska checks if overeducated workers have different personality traits and cognitive skills than their well-matched colleagues.

The levels of overeducation are increasing in recent years in many European countries, including Poland. Overeducation has negative consequences for individual workers: they have lower job satisfaction and earn less. It is a challenge also for policymakers, especially in countries where tertiary education is financed by the state, as they may wonder if so much investment in schooling is a justified cost.

Do overeducated workers differ from well-matched colleagues with the same level of education, or it is only matching process which needs to be improved? We demonstrate that among young workers overeducated workers are more agreeable (so more cooperative, unselfish) and less conscientious (so less organised, responsible, and hardworking) than the well-matched workers but their cognitive skills are at a similar level. Even when we take into account these differences in personality, young overeducated workers earn over 15% less than their well-matched colleagues. This result suggests that it is rather the matching process of workers to jobs which needs to be improved.

The full text of the IBS Working Paper is available here.


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