Spouse Overeducation and Family Migration: Evidence from the US

Abstract

Scholars have noted that marriage frequently results in a sub-optimal job search. This literature suggests that the overeducation of wives is a result of household migration (tied-mover) or the result of an inability to migrate (tied-stayer). Others have found that overeducation may also be a cause of migration. This study examines overeducation as both a cause and effect of migration. Some evidence shows that families with an overeducated husband are found to be more likely to migrate. In turn, this migration leads to increased levels of overeducation among wives and decreased levels of overeducation among husbands. Household migration is also found to lower the full-time employment rates of wives by more than their male counterparts.

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Notes

  1. 1.

    Ortiz and Kucel (2008) demonstrate that fields of study impact overeducation rates.

  2. 2.

    Allen and van der Velden (2001) show a stronger link between job satisfaction and skill mismatches.

  3. 3.

    In a somewhat related work, Smits et al. (2003) examined the impact of male versus female education on family migration in the Netherlands. However, Smits et al. (2003) use absolute levels of education and not an over/undereducation framework.

  4. 4.

    Considerable research has been performed on the household division of labor. Some recent examples include Hundley (2001) and Estes et al. (2007).

  5. 5.

    The result is that overeducation and undereducation in the sample did not sum to zero. Individuals in occupational categories where EDOC(MEAN) and EDOC (MODE) have a difference greater than two are considered potentially flawed and eliminated. For example, 69 individuals are reported to be in occupation 822 (farm laborers, wage workers); 31 with 4 or fewer years of schooling and 13 had 17 or more years of schooling. This resulted values EDOC (MEAN) and EDOC (MODE) of 7.7 and 3.0, respectively. Since it was not known which estimate is correct, if any, the occupational category was removed.

  6. 6.

    The Heckman (1979) selection approach is a two-step procedure. In the first step, a probit is run as to whether or not the individual undertakes a certain behavior. In this case, the behavior is working full-time. This step generates a selectivity correction variable (the inverse Mills ratio) which is then used as one of the independent variables in the second step regression (designated as the variable Lambda). This Heckman approach is necessary because a value for the dependent variable in the second step is only observed if an individual chooses to take the action in the first step.

  7. 7.

    Work such as Lucas (1985) and Curran and Rivero-Fuentes (2003) found a negative link between absolute levels of education and migration. Sahota (1968) and Emerson (1989) found no significant link between absolute levels of education and the likelihood of migration.

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Correspondence to Michael A. Quinn.

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Quinn, M.A., Rubb, S. Spouse Overeducation and Family Migration: Evidence from the US. J Fam Econ Iss 32, 36–45 (2011). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10834-010-9213-4

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Keywords

  • Education
  • Migration
  • Overeducation
  • Overqualification