Social Indicators Research

, Volume 147, Issue 2, pp 591–620 | Cite as

Over-Qualification and the Dimensions of Job Satisfaction

  • Inmaculada García-Mainar
  • Víctor M. Montuenga-GómezEmail author
Original Research


The spread of over-qualification is a consequence of individuals having acquired more credentials than required at the workplace. In some cases, it may be that this mismatch plays a role in allowing workers to compensate for the lack of some other skills, to escape from unemployment, or to achieve job stability in the labour market. Consequently, workers may feel no less satisfied, at least in some aspects, than adequately-matched workers. The aim of this paper is to analyse the relationship between over-qualification and the various dimensions of job satisfaction in Spain, a country characterised by a strongly-segmented labour market with high unemployment levels, and a significant number of mismatched employees. Using micro data for a representative sample of Spanish workers, we carry out simultaneous maximum likelihood estimations on a two-equation system to control for potential endogeneity. The results obtained provide evidence that does not reject the hypothesis that mismatched workers do not necessarily feel less satisfied than adequately-matched workers in the dimensions of job satisfaction related to extrinsic domains or social relations.


Over-qualification Job satisfaction Simulated maximum likelihood estimation Spain 

JEL Classification

D82 I26 J24 J28 J62 



The authors would like to thank three anonymous referees as well as participants at the XII Spanish Labour Economics Meeting, for helpful comments on earlier drafts of this paper.


Funding was provided by the Autonomous Government of Aragon (Research Group S32-17R), co-financed by ERDF 2014-2020, and University of Zaragoza  (UZ2018-SOC-01).


  1. Acosta-Ballesteros, J., Osorno de Rosal, M. M., & Rodriguez-Rodriguez, O. M. (2018). Overeducation of Young workers in Spain: How much does the first job matter? Social Indicators Research,138, 109–139.Google Scholar
  2. Alba-Ramirez, A. (1993). Mismatch in the Spanish labor market: Over-education? Journal of Human Resources,28, 259–278.Google Scholar
  3. Allen, J., & Van der Velden, R. (2001). Educational mismatches versus skill mismatches: Effects on wages, job satisfaction, and on-the-job search. Oxford Economic Papers,533, 434–452.Google Scholar
  4. Badillo-Amador, L., Lopez-Nicolas, A., & Vila, L. (2012). The consequences on job satisfaction of job-worker educational and skill mismatches in the Spanish labour market: A panel analysis. Applied Economics Letters,19, 319–324.Google Scholar
  5. Badillo-Amador, L., & Vila, L. (2013). Education and skill mismatches: Wage and job satisfaction consequences. International Journal of Manpower,34, 416–428.Google Scholar
  6. Baert, S., Cockx, B., & Verhaest, D. (2013). Over-education at the start of the career: Stepping stone or trap. Labor Economics,25, 123–140.Google Scholar
  7. Becker, G. (1964). Human capital: A theoretical and empirical analysis, with special reference to education. New York, NY: National Bureau of Economic Research.Google Scholar
  8. Bolino, M. C., & Feldman, D. C. (2000). The antecedents and consequences of underemployment among expatriates. Journal of Organizational Behavior,21, 889–911.Google Scholar
  9. Booth, A., Francesconi, M., & Frank, J. (2002). Temporary jobs: Stepping stones or dead ends? The Economic Journal,112, F189–F213.Google Scholar
  10. Bryson, A., Cappellari, L., & Lucifora, C. (2004). Does union membership really reduce job satisfaction? British Journal of Industrial Relations,42, 439–459.Google Scholar
  11. Büchel, F. (2002). The effects of over-education on productivity in Germany. The firm’s viewpoint. Economics of Education Review,213, 263–276.Google Scholar
  12. Chevalier, A. (2003). Measuring over-education. Economica,70, 509–531.Google Scholar
  13. Chevalier, A., & Lindley, J. (2009). Over-education and the skills of UK graduates. Journal of the Royal Statistical Society: Series A,172, 307–337.Google Scholar
  14. Crosby, F. (1976). A model of egoistical relative deprivation. Psychological Review,83, 85–113.Google Scholar
  15. Dolan, P., Peasgooda, T., & Whiteb, M. (2008). Do we really know what makes us happy? A review of the economic literature on the factors associated with subjective well-being. Journal of Economic Psychology,29(1), 94–122.Google Scholar
  16. Erdogan, B., & Bauer, Τ. Ν. (2009). Perceived overqualification and its outcomes: The moderating role of empowerment. Journal of Applied Psychology,94(2), 557–565.Google Scholar
  17. Erdogan, B., Bauer, Τ. Ν., Peiró, J. M., & Truxillo, D. M. (2011a). Overqualified employees: Making the best of a potentially bad situation for individuals & organizations. Industrial & Organizational Psychology,4, 215–232.Google Scholar
  18. Erdogan, B., Bauer, Τ. Ν., Peiró, J. M., & Truxillo, D. M. (2011b). Overqualification theory, research and practice: Things that matter. Industrial and Organizational Psychology,4, 260–267.Google Scholar
  19. Feldman, D. C. (1996). The nature, antecedents, and consequences of underemployment. Journal of Management,22, 385–407.Google Scholar
  20. Feldman, D. C., Leana, C. R., & Bolino, M. C. (2002). Underemployment & relative deprivation among re-employed executives. Journal of Occupational & Organizational Psychology,75, 453–471.Google Scholar
  21. Fernández, C. (2006). The role of education vis-à-vis job experience in explaining the transitions to employment in the Spanish youth labor market. Spanish Economic Review,8, 161–187.Google Scholar
  22. Ferrer-i-Carbonell, A., & Frijters, P. (2004). How important is methodology for the estimates of the determinants of happiness? The Economic Journal,114, 641–659.Google Scholar
  23. Fine, S., & Nevo, B. (2008). Too smart for their own good? A study of perceived cognitive overqualification in the workforce. The International Journal of Human Resource Management,19, 346–355.Google Scholar
  24. Flisi, S., Goglio, V., Meroni, E., Rodrigues, M., & Vera-Toscano, E. (2017). Measuring occupational mismatch: Overeducation and overskill in Europe-Evidence from PIAAC. Social Indicators Research,131, 1211–1249.Google Scholar
  25. García-Mainar, I., García-Martín, G., & Montuenga, V. (2016). Gender differences in occupations, job attributes, and job satisfaction. Revista de Economía Aplicada,71(XXIV), 39–67.Google Scholar
  26. García-Montalvo, J., & Peiro, J. M. (2008). Analysis of overqualification and labour flexibility. Observatory of Youth Labour Market entry. Valencia: Fundacion Bancaja, IVIE.Google Scholar
  27. Gobernado, R. (2007). La sobreeducación en España: estudio descriptivo y revisión crítica del concepto. Papers, Revista de Sociología,86, 12–31.Google Scholar
  28. Green, F., & McIntosh, S. (2007). Is there a genuine under-utilization of skills among the over-qualified? Applied Economics,39, 427–439.Google Scholar
  29. Green, F., McIntosh, S., & Vignoles, A. (2002). The utilization of education and skills: Evidence from Great Britain. The Manchester School,70, 792–811.Google Scholar
  30. Green, F., & Zhu, Y. (2010). Overqualification, job dissatisfaction, and increasing dispersion in the returns to graduate education. Oxford Economic Papers,624, 749–763.Google Scholar
  31. Groot, W., & Maassen van den Brink, H. (1999). Job satisfaction of older workers. International Journal of Manpower,20, 343–360.Google Scholar
  32. Groot, W., & Maassen van den Brink, H. (2000). Job satisfaction, wages and allocation of men and women. In E. Diener & D. Rahtz (Eds.), Advances in quality of life theory and research (pp. 111–128). Dordrecht: Kluwer.Google Scholar
  33. Hartog, J. (2000). Over-education and earnings: Where are we, where should we go? Economics of Education Review,192, 131–147.Google Scholar
  34. Holton, B., Lee, T., & Tidd, S. (2002). The relationship between work status congruence and work-related attitudes and behaviors. Journal of Applied Psychology,87(5), 903–915.Google Scholar
  35. Johnson, G. J., & Johnson, W. R. (2000). Perceived overqualification and dimensions of job satisfaction: A longitudinal analysis. Journal of Psychology,134, 537–555.Google Scholar
  36. Johnson, W. R., Morrow, P. C., & Johnson, G. J. (2002). An evaluation of a perceived overqualification scale across work settings. Journal of Psychology,136, 425–441.Google Scholar
  37. Kampelmann, S., & Rycx, F. (2012). The impact of educational mismatch on firm productivity: Evidence from linked panel data. Economics of Education Review,31, 918–931.Google Scholar
  38. Khan, L. J., & Morrow, P. C. (1991). Objective and subjective underemployment relationships to job satisfaction. Journal of Business Research,22, 211–218.Google Scholar
  39. Kristof-Brown, A. L., Zimmerman, R. D., & Johnson, E. C. (2005). Consequences of individuals’ fit at work: a meta-analysis of person-job, person-organization, person-group, and person-supervisor fit. Personnel Psychology,58(2), 281–342.Google Scholar
  40. Leuven, E., & Oosterbeek, H. (2011). Over-education and mismatch in the labor market. In Eric A. Hanushek, Stephen Machin, & Ludger Woessmann (Eds.), Handbook of the economics of education (Vol. 4, pp. 283–326). Amsterdam: North Holland.Google Scholar
  41. Liu, S., & Wang, M. (2012). Perceived overqualification: A review and recommendation for research and practice. Research in Occupational Stress & Well-Being,10, 1–42.Google Scholar
  42. Maltarich, M., Reilly, G., & Nyberg, A. (2011). Objective and subjective overqualification: Distinctins, relationships, and a place for each in the literature. Journal of Organizacional Psychology,4, 236–239.Google Scholar
  43. Mateos Romero, L., & Salinas-Jiménez, M. M. (2018a). Skills use in the workplace and its effects on wages and on job satisfaction: An application to the Spanish case. Personnel Review,47(2), 494–516.Google Scholar
  44. Mateos Romero, L., & Salinas-Jiménez, M. M. (2018b). Labor mismatches: Effects on wages and on job satisfaction in 17 OECD countries. Social Indicators Research,141, 369–391.Google Scholar
  45. Mateos-Romero, L., Murillo-Huertas, I., & Salinas-Jiménez, M. M. (2017). Wage effects of cognitive skills and educational mismatch in Europe. Journal of Policy Modeling,39, 909–927.Google Scholar
  46. Mateos-Romero, L., & Salinas-Jiménez, M. M. (2017). Skills heterogeneity among graduate workers: Real and apparent overeducation in the Spanish labor market. Social Indicators Research,132, 1247–1264.Google Scholar
  47. Mavromaras, K., McGuinness, S., & O’Leary, N. (2013). Job mismatches and labour market outcomes: Panel evidence on university graduates. Economic Record,89, 382–395.Google Scholar
  48. Maynard, D. C., Joseph, T. A., & Maynard, A. M. (2006). Underemployment, job attitudes, & turnover intentions. Journal of Organizational Behavior,27, 509–536.Google Scholar
  49. McGuinness, S. (2006). Over-education in the labor market. Journal of Economic Surveys,203, 387–418.Google Scholar
  50. McGuinness, S., & Sloane, P. (2011). Labour market mismatch among UK graduates: An analysis using REFLEX data. Economics of Education Review,30, 130–145.Google Scholar
  51. McGuinness, S., & Wooden, M. (2009). Overskilling, job insecurity, and career mobility. Industrial Relations,48, 265–286.Google Scholar
  52. McKee-Ryan, F., & Harvey, J. (2011). I have a job, but …: A review of underemployment. Journal of Management,37(4), 962–996.Google Scholar
  53. OECD. (2011). Right for the job: Over-qualified or under-skilled. OECD Employment Outlook 2011 (pp. 191–235). Paris: OECD Publishing.Google Scholar
  54. Ordine, P., & Rose, G. (2009). Over-education and instructional quality: A theoretical model and some facts. Journal of Human Capital,31, 73–105.Google Scholar
  55. Origo, F., & Pagani, L. (2009). Flexicurity and job satisfaction in Europe: The importance of perceived and actual job stability for well-being at work. Labour Economics,16, 547–555.Google Scholar
  56. Ortiz, L. (2010). Not the right job, but a secure one: Over-education and temporary employment in France, Italy and Spain. Work, Employment & Society,241, 47–64.Google Scholar
  57. Peiro, J. M., Agut, S., & Grau, R. (2010). The relationship between overeducation and job satisfaction among young Spanish workers: The role of salary, contract of employment, and work experience. Journal of Applied Social Psychology,40(3), 666–689.Google Scholar
  58. Robst, J. (1994). Measurement error and the returns to excess schooling. Applied Economics Letters,1, 142–144.Google Scholar
  59. Roodman, D. (2011). Fitting fully observed recursive mixed-process models with cmp. Stata Journal,11(2), 159–206.Google Scholar
  60. Rubb, S. (2003). Over-education in the labor market: A comment and re-analysis of a meta-analysis. Economics of Education Review,22, 621–629.Google Scholar
  61. Sattinger, M. (1993). Assignment models of the distribution of earnings. Journal of Economic Literature,31(2), 831–880.Google Scholar
  62. Sicherman, N. (1991). Over-education in the labor market. Journal of Labor Economics,9(2), 101–122.Google Scholar
  63. Sicherman, N., & Galor, O. (1990). A theory of career mobility. Journal of Political Economy,98(1), 169–192.Google Scholar
  64. Sloane, P. (2003). Much ado about nothing? What does the over-education literature really tell us. In F. Büchel, A. De Grip, & A. Mertens (Eds.), Over-education in Europe; current issues in theory and policy (pp. 11–45). Cheltenham: Edward Elgar.Google Scholar
  65. Tam, H. (2010). Characteristics of the underemployed and the overemployed in the UK. Economic and Labour Market Review,4, 8–20.Google Scholar
  66. Thurow, L. (1975). Generating inequality. New York: Basic Books.Google Scholar
  67. Tsang, M., Rumberger, R., & Levin, H. (1991). The impact of surplus schooling on worker productivity. Industrial Relations,30, 209–228.Google Scholar
  68. Van de Ven, W. P., & Van Praag, B. M. S. (1981). The demand for deductibles and private health insurance: A probit model with sample selection. Journal of Econometrics,17, 229–252.Google Scholar
  69. Verhaest, D., & Omey, E. (2006). The impact of over-education and its measurement. Social Indicators Research,77, 419–448.Google Scholar
  70. Verhaest, D., & Omey, E. (2009). Objective over-education and worker well-being: A shadow price approach. Journal of Economic Psychology,30, 469–481.Google Scholar
  71. Verhaest, D., & van der Velden, R. (2013). Cross-country differences in graduate over-education. European Sociological Review,293, 642–653.Google Scholar
  72. Verhaest, D., & Verhofstadt, E. (2016). Overeducation and job satisfaction: The role of job demands and control. International Journal of Manpower,37(3), 456–473.Google Scholar
  73. Verhofstadt, E., De Witte, H., & Omey, E. (2007). Higher educated workers: Better jobs but less satisfied? International Journal of Manpower,28(2), 135–151.Google Scholar
  74. Vieira, J. (2005). Skill mismatches and job satisfaction. Economic Letters,89, 39–47.Google Scholar
  75. Weststar, J. (2009). Worker control as a facilitator in the match between education and job skill. British Journal of Industrial Relations,47, 723–740.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Nature B.V. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Faculty of Economics and BusinessUniversity of ZaragozaZaragozaSpain

Personalised recommendations