Do secondary education systems influence the overeducation risk of university graduates? A cross-national analysis by field of study and social background

Capsada-Munsech, Q. (2024) Do secondary education systems influence the overeducation risk of university graduates? A cross-national analysis by field of study and social background. International Journal of Comparative Sociology, 65(1), pp. 63-89. (doi: 10.1177/00207152241228148)

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To what extent do features of education systems in the secondary school influence university graduates being overeducated? Previous research shows that the social origin and the field of study of university graduates are relevant predictors of overeducation. However, the strength of the influence of their social origin varies across fields of study. Having a privileged social origin prevents university graduates from being overeducated in fields of study that are not occupationally focused (e.g. humanities), while it is less relevant in other fields (e.g. engineering). The unevenly distributed effect of social origin in relation to the field of study may also vary across countries, depending on the influence of the secondary education system on social selection. Social origin may provide a filter earlier in vocationally oriented educational systems, whereas in comprehensive systems the social filter occurs at the graduate’s entry into the labor market. This would make university graduates from nonoccupationally focused fields of study and with a disadvantaged social origin more vulnerable to being overeducated in countries with comprehensive secondary school systems, while in vocationally oriented systems social origin may be less influential at that later stage. Using Research into Employment and professional FLEXibility/Higher Education as a Generator of Strategic Competences (REFLEX/HEGESCO) data in combination with macro-level indicators, I assess how secondary education systems mediate the influence of social origin in terms of the university graduate’s risk of overeducation by field of study. When using a subjective measure of overeducation results suggest that social origin is less important in predicting the overeducation of university graduates in countries with greater vocational orientation at the secondary level, while in comprehensive systems social origin regains its influence as a filter when graduates in nonoccupationally oriented fields join the labor market. Yet, results do not hold when using an objective measure of overeducation.

Item Type:Articles
Keywords:Overeducation, graduates, selectivity, vocational, social stratification, field of study, education systems.
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Capsada-Munsech, Dr Queralt
Authors: Capsada-Munsech, Q.
College/School:College of Social Sciences > School of Education > Educational Leadership & Policy
Journal Name:International Journal of Comparative Sociology
Publisher:SAGE Publications
ISSN (Online):1745-2554
Published Online:04 February 2024
Copyright Holders:Copyright © 2024 The Authors
First Published:First published in International Journal of Comparative Sociology 2024 65(1):63-89
Publisher Policy:Reproduced under a Creative Commons licence

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