May 2012

No. 6562: Overeducation at the Start of the Career: Stepping Stone or Trap?

revised version published in: Labour Economics [Online Access]

This study investigates whether young unemployed graduates who accept a job below their level of education accelerate or delay the transition into a job that matches their level of education. We adopt the Timing of Events approach to identify this dynamic treatment effect using monthly calendar data from a representative sample of Flemish (Belgian) youth who started searching for a job right after leaving formal education. We find that overeducation is a trap. This trap is especially important early in the unemployment spell. Our results are robust across various specifications and for two overeducation measures.