IN THIS PAGE YOU WILL FIND LINKS TO ACADEMIC AND NON-ACADEMIC ARTICLES ON OVEREDUCATION
Part I: Publications by Nader Habibi
In Spring of 2015, the Hollings Center organized a conference entitled, Bridging the Disconnect Between Education and the Economy, exploring the breakdown between higher education and the labor market. Out of this conference, we supported a small grant for two participants to explore this phenomenon in greater depth in the context of Turkey and Iran. Dr. Nader Habibi, faculty of the Crown Center for Middle East Studies and the Department of Economics at Brandeis University, put out a report examining overeducation in Turkey as part of his ongoing research on the linkages between economies and education, and as a preliminary output of the small grant research. This report explores the economic and political factors that have led to increased supply and demand of higher education in Turkey, which resulted in unprecedented levels of underemployment of university graduates. A full report will be published in the coming months.
When we compare the projected number of university graduates with the projected demand for university graduates in 2015-22 the results show an annual surplus of graduates in every year of this period. This projection is consistent with an observed surplus of university graduates in 2012 and 2013. The graduate surplus will initially decline to a low level of 16,000 in 2015, but will rise steadily to more than 100,000 by 2022. These surplus graduates will either join the ranks of unemployed workers or will have to accept low-skilled jobs that do not require college degrees.
This April more than two million applicants participated in the national university entrance exam, or ÖSS, in Turkey and at least 0.9 million will be admitted to four-year and two-year university degrees.
They will join more than six million students who are currently studying in Turkey’s 170 universities. The total number of students in universities and other institutions of higher education has increased by 91%, from 3.5 million students in 2008 to 6.7 million in 2013. (Russia, with a population of 143 million, had seven million students in higher education institutions in 2013).
The Islamic Republic of Iran is facing an unprecedented overeducation crisis—producing far more university graduates than the employment opportunities available to them. Indeed, while a number of Middle East countries have been experiencing the same challenge, the magnitude of this problem in Iran is far greater than in any of the region’s other states. In this Brief, Nader Habibi sheds light on the causes, magnitude, and consequences of this growing and little-examined challenge to Iran.
Part II: General Publications
Tackling the “High-Cost Useless Degree Problem ( India , May 27, 2016)
According to a recent report by the Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India, with the exception of the top 20 business schools (mostly Indian Institutes of Management), most of the 5,500 such institutions produce only 7% employable MBAs, with the rest earning less than INR10,000 (US$149) a month. Similarly, according to the Aspiring Minds National Employability Report, 80% of engineering graduates are unemployable.
Generation Jobless (Canada, April 2015)
GENERATION JOBLESS delves into why so many young Canadians are overeducated and underemployed. The reality is that today’s twenty-something’s are entering an economy in the throes of a seismic shift where globalization and technology are transforming the workplace. Automation is replacing tens of thousands of jobs at a time. Companies fixated on the bottom line are outsourcing jobs and wherever possible getting computers to do the work. Employers are placing a higher premium on experienced workers, unwilling to invest in training new entrants to the workforce. So, young people are caught in a catch 22. How do you get experience if no one will hire you without it? Many are working for free as unpaid interns, just to try and get their foot in the door. And, for the first time in history youth are facing another unique challenge – competition with their parents’ generation for the small pool of jobs that do exist. Boomers who are delaying retirement.
Gaps in Earnings Stand Out in Release of College Data, (USA, September 13, 2015)
What can be Done to Tackle Corruption (Africa, 2015) In its 2013 Global Corruption Report: Education, Transparency International indicates that corruption in higher education is widespread in Africa. Because higher education has such an important role to play in the social and economic development of Africa, it is imperative that this issue be addressed and appropriate solutions found.
Singapore’s Tiger moms are becoming a headache for Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, who is trying to persuade the population that they don’t need to go to university to have a good career. After a clampdown on immigration and a slowdown in the economy, he needs fewer graduates and more workers to fill the shipyards, factory floors and hotel desks that keep the country going.*
Internationalization and the Changing Paradigm of Higher Education in the GCC Countries (April 2015, GCC countries, Arab Countries) The present study has been undertaken to examine the growth trajectory of the higher education (HE) sector across all the countries in the GCC (Gulf Cooperation Council) region, the transition toward internationalization, quality initiatives undertaken, and movement toward regional integration. The study aims to provide a review for the shifting paradigm through concepts of internationalization in the literature review and to probe on the themes facing the GCC in their adaptation to internationalization. The study is based on secondary data, mainly of the websites of 167 universities/higher education institutions (HEIs) of GCC, which were analyzed for their adaptation to internationalization. The results show the various perspectives of internationalization with the suggestion on regional integration. It is hoped the study would provide the HEIs and the policy makers with a strong foundation on their internationalization efforts.
What is Behind Russia’s Higher Education Cuts (Russia, 2015) Credentialism has become the main driver of the higher education market. A higher education degree is the first and most obvious requirement to get a foot in the door of most industries. Furthermore, 80% of employers say that they do not care if a higher education diploma is granted by a reputable university or not.
This race for degrees had a snowball effect: demand-driven growth by whatever means led to a growth in institutions opening local branches and to the expansion of part-time education. Part-time students made up 51% of the student population in 2014.
Your PhD Oversupply Crisis is Our Opportunity (Latin America, 2015) There is growing pressure on Latin American countries to produce larger numbers of highly skilled talent. ..Universities in the region produce insufficient numbers of doctoral-degree holders and those doctoral programmes that do exist are often of poor quality. In addition, brain drain remains a problem.
Yet, things might be changing: overproduction of PhDs and deteriorating working conditions for faculty, particularly for adjuncts, in industrialised countries may represent an opportunity for the developing world.
Government to close two in every five universities (Russia, 2015) The number of Russian universities will be cut by 40% by the end of 2016, according to Minister of Education and Science Dmitry Livanov. In addition, the number of university branches will be slashed by 80% in the same period.
The institutions are being axed under a federal plan for the development of education during 2016 to 2020. Ministry of Education and Science data indicate that at present there are 593 state and 486 private universities, which have 1,376 and 682 branches respectively.
Private universities and branch campuses ‘technically insolvent’ (Malaysia, 2015) In a bleak assessment of the outlook for the private higher education sector, the report by the Penang Institute says the performance of private universities lags behind public institution and many are struggling to maintain educational standards amid a deteriorating financial situation. “This means that they are technically insolvent,” it says. “The causes may be due to poor management from the top and tight financial conditions which are taking their toll on the quality of education in Malaysian private universities, leading to high graduate unemployment and poor international rankings.”
Cut university enrolment by 30%, expand colleges, CEO-commissioned report urges (Canada, April 2015) Canada would be better off if universities admitted 30 per cent fewer students every year and the college and polytechnical system got more of a focus, a report commissioned by the Canadian Council for Chief Executives says. … “Canada needs to shift away from this open-access approach — based on the idea that everyone ‘deserves’ a degree, or at least the chance to try to earn one — to one that is based on achievement, motivation and compatibility with national needs.”
Dropouts Taxes and Risks: the Economic Return to College Education under Realistic Assumptions (USA, January 2015) Most published estimates of the economic return to college rest on a series of best-case assumptions that often overstate returns and, most importantly, obscure differences in return across different institutions. We simulate the economic return to college under more realistic assumptions using U.S. Census data combined with administrative data from the more selective University of California system and the less selective California State University system. Specifically, we adjust for delayed graduations, the probability of dropping out, progressive taxes on earned income, and risk aversion. We perform a bounding exercise for ability bias. These each reduce expected returns to a Bachelor’s degree. Contrary to prior “best case” estimates, and under reasonable bounds for the ability bias, we find that the return to a college degree in 2010 could be less than the interest on unsubsidized Stafford loans. Returns are particularly modest for young men at the less-selective CSU system, largely due to high dropout rates, delayed graduation, and a lower effect on labor force participation compared to women. Our analysis begins to bridge the gap between standard estimates of the economic return to college and the institutional performance metrics reported in the Obama Administration’s College Scorecard.
Bogus University Graduates Clog Iraqi Job Markets (Iraq, 2015) Meager employment opportunities have led Iraqi university graduates holding doctoral and master’s degrees to despair, as they pursue fruitless searches for jobs in government ministries and the private sector. In Babil province Feb. 3, some 200 unemployed university graduates attended a seminar in Murdoch Hall in Babil’s tourist resort. Also in attendance were the parliamentarian Haitham al-Jubouri as well as representatives from the Ministry of Higher Education and civil society organizations.
In South Korea, the yearly college entrance exam is a make-or-break moment for young people’s lives. So when the new education minister hinted at a significant reform, local news outlets and social media jumped. At issue is the $18 billion South Korean parents paid for private education last year to try and give their children an advantage in the exam. It’s a figure from the national statistics agency that horrifies everyone except cram school operators and private tutors. In particular, critics say a reliance on private education creates an uneven playing field for the less wealthy.
Rising unemployment – Are there too many graduates? (Asia, 2014) Fast growing East Asian economies have rapidly increased the numbers of students attending university in recent years. Now the pool of unemployed graduates is rising to worrying levels in the region generally – and even in some high-growth economies. In South Korea the number of ‘economically inactive’ graduates has passed three million for the first time, according to government figures released on 3 February, up just over 3% from the previous year.
Saudi Arabia-Dramatic Developments in Higher Education (February 2014) Major developments are occurring in higher education in Saudi Arabia. These involve both significant expansion and introduction of a new quality assurance and accreditation system. In 2003 there were eight public universities in Saudi Arabia, with enrollments of just over 200,000. In addition, there were a number of higher education colleges and seven private colleges for a total enrollment in higher education of approximately 550,000. Ten years later, the number of higher education students has more than doubled with 1.2 million students enrolled in 25 public universities and 30 private universities and colleges in major cities and regional locations around the country. These numbers do not include the 163,000 students enrolled in undergraduate and postgraduate programs in international universities in many countries throughout the world.
The Changing PhD – Turning out millions of doctorates. (World, China 2013) As more and more universities around the world graduate ever-increasing numbers of students with PhDs, governments are beginning to ask if it is time to slow the production line. A new study notes that China is the world leader in producing PhDs, having outnumbered the United States on a per year basis for the first time in 2008.
Was it worth it? An empirical analysis of over-education among Ph.D. recipients in Italy (2013) This paper aims to provide an empirical examination of factors associated with overeducation among Ph.D. graduates in Italy. Our investigation is based on recently released data collected by the Italian National Institute of Statistics by means of interviews with a large sample of Ph.D. recipients, carried out a few years after they obtained their Ph.D. degree. We measured the mismatch between their current job and previous Ph.D. studies using two direct subjective evaluations of over-education, which distinguish between the usefulness of the Ph.D. title to get the current job position and to perform the current work activities. Even if the incidence of over-education varies according to the measurement applied, we found that it is highly widespread among Ph.D. recipients.
Thirty-four countries that are members of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, or the OECD, are in the process of boosting higher education reforms in order to reduce the proportion of young people who are neither in employment nor in education or training.
South Korea pays heavy price for education October 9, 2013
Park Sang-hee, is a new breed of university drop out. The 21-year-old South Korean ditched his music degree not to hit the hippy trail or to develop the next Google; but to train as an electrician.
The pragmatic Mr Park may be a sign of things to come. In his home market, the deluge of graduates – 7 out of every 10 high school students go to university – and the subsequent skills surplus and labour underutilisation is taking a toll on the economy.
Recent College Graduates in the Labor Force (United States , 2013)
Data collected each October in the School Enrollment Supplement to the Current Population Survey provide an annual snapshot of the demographic characteristics, labor force activity, and school enrollment status of each year’s cohort of recent college graduates
Formal-Informal Gap in Return to Schooling and Penalty to Education-Occupation Mismatch: A comparative Study for Egypt, Jordan and Palestine. (December 2014) The paper investigates the presence of wage penalty to education-occupation mismatch and the differences in wage penalty between formal and informal employment. Using labor force survey data from the three countries, a hierarchical linear model is estimated in order to test for heterogeneity in wage penalty across occupations. Results show lower rate of return to education for informal employees.
Participation rates: now we are 50 (United Kingdom, 2013) According to the latest data, participation rates among people aged 17 to 30 rose from 46 per cent in 2010-11 to 49 per cent in 2011-12, and might even have exceeded 50 per cent had the figures included those attending private institutions. So what does this mean? In 1950, just 3.4 per cent of young people went to university, so today’s participation rate vividly illustrates how higher education has moved from the margins to centre stage in British public life. What is more, this is a shift that has taken place within the lifetime of many scholars working today.
Youth Employment: Five Challenges for North Africa (OECD, 2012) Among university-educated youth in Tunisia, the unemployment rate is lowest for engineers (24.5 %), and highest for graduates in economics, management and law (47.1%) and in social sciences (43.2%) (Stampini and Verdier-Chouchane, ibid.). Nevertheless, these are precisely the subjects the majority of students choose to enter. With 51%, North Africa is the world region with the highest proportion of students in social sciences, business and law.
Concern over too many postgraduates as fewer find jobs (China, 2012) Education Ministry officials have expressed concern over the large number of postgraduates in China, as students with masters and PhD degrees are finding it even harder than graduates with lower degrees to find employment in a sluggish jobs market.
Job market has changed but universities pump out graduates (Global, 2012) Higher education authorities have been busy projecting a booming future for graduates while there is very little evidence to reassure graduates that they will land a job.
National strategy aims to reduce university enrolment(Jordan,2012) Reducing the number of students attending four-year universities and redirecting them to technical and vocational education is the main goal of the National Higher Education Strategy, Minister of Higher Education and Scientific Research Wajih Owais said last week, reports The Jordan Times.
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.
Skill Mismatch and Migration in Egypt and Tunisia (EGypt, Tunisia, 2013, OECD)
Impact of Overeducation and Undereducation on Easrnings: Egypt in a Post-Revolutionary Era (Egypt 2014) It is found that returns to over-education are positive and in fact they are higher than returns to adequate education, which contradicts previous literature findings. It is also found that there is a tradeoff between over-education and years of experience.
The Changing PhD – Turning out millions of doctorates (China, other countries, 2013) University World News reported last October, unemployment in China among new postgraduates has been rising for the past seven years and was higher than for undergraduates in the three years to 2012. This is one reason why China is putting emphasis on growing the number of professional PhDs and on moving research to industry.
Most people in the UK do not go to university – and maybe never will (United Kingdom, 2013) In short, it’s not actually very easy to work out what proportion of the UK population has degrees (nor how many more or less graduates the economy needs). Depending on which dataset you study, it’s 27.2% or 34.4% or 40.2% of the population. It certainly isn’t 49%. Most people don’t go to university and current data suggests that most people in the UK never will.
Too much to die, too little to live: unemployment, higher education policies and university budgets in Germany (2012) German educational spending per student has dramatically declined since the early 1970s. In this paper, we develop a theory of fiscal opportunism and argue that state governments exploit higher educational policies as an instrument of active labour market policy. By ‘opening’ universities to the masses and the extensive propagation of broader university enrolment during times of economic distress, state governments have an instrument at their disposal for lowering unemployment without generating negative budgetary implications. Thereby, the government pockets voter support not only by diminishing unemployment, but also by providing public goods particularly to the socially disadvantaged. At the same time, the state government risks a deterioration of educational quality owing to decreasing educational spending per student. We test our theoretical claims for the German states in a period ranging from 1975 to 2000 by means of panel fixed-effects models. The empirical results robustly support the hypothesis that rising unemployment ratios lead to increased university enrolment, but also significantly reduce the spending per student.
Attracting Global Talent and Then What? Overeducated Immigrants in the United States (United States , 2013) This article studies the prevalence of overeducation among male immigrants to the United States.*
In industrially advanced countries like South Korea, university students find themselves being forced to go overseas to find work rather than stay at home to do low-paying menial jobs. Those jobs are taken up by migrant labor which Korea imports every year.
In Malaysia young skilled people are leaving for more attractive jobs in places like Singapore, Australia and Canada. For years Malaysian companies have complained about the country’s “brain drain” and shortage of skilled labor. Economists say the shortage of skills has severely affected the country’s ability to attract more high-technology industries. *
Africa-Middle East: Jobless Graduate Time Bomb (February 2011)
Unfolding events in North Africa and the Middle East have offered an important warning about the dangers of youth and graduate unemployment. First came the Tunisian time-bomb, then Egypt and Yemem. And there have been rumblings in Algeria, Libya and Morocco.
Demonstrators and analysts have pointed out that one of the root causes of the current trouble is lack of jobs for youths and university graduates, and the expansion of education systems that produce growing numbers of graduates without simultaneous economic development to provide employment for them.
THE DIPLOMA DISEASE AND THE CHALLENGE OF RECAPTURING THE ESSENCE OF EDUCATION (Nigeria, 2004) This article discusses the problem of overeducation and diploma disease in contemporary Nigeria.
Healing Ourselves from the Diploma Disease (India, 2005) The author invites civil society organizations of India to reject diplomas and certifications.
Social and Political Costs of Overeducation This article looks at the impact of overeducate on workers attitudes toward job satisfaction, political issues, and alienation. (United States, 1983)
Overeducation and depressive symptoms: diminishing mental health returns to education (Europe, 2013, A sociological analysis)
Being Overeducated in your first job hurts you later in your career (USA, June 2014, short non-academic)
Double Penalty in Return to Education (Columbia, 2013)
Returns to Education: What Role Does Over-education Play (Malaysia, 2013)
Recent College Graduates and the Rising College Tuition (United States, 2013)
New 2035 enrolment forecasts place East Asia and the Pacific in the lead (September 2012) [Enrolment in Higher Education] growth predicted from 2000-30 is likely to be higher than that experienced between 1970 and 2000. The number of students enroled in higher education by 2030 is forecast to rise from 99.4 million in 2000 to 414.2 million in 2030 – an increase of 314%. If an extra five years is added to these projections, the number of students pursuing higher education by 2035 is likely to exceed 520 million. This growth is being fueled by the current transformation in the developing and emerging regions and countries of the world – a growth that will only accelerate in the next decades.
The State of Young College Grads 2011 (United States, 2012)
Turkey: Are Turkish Youngsters Too Smart? (November 2011) Turkish university graduates struggling to find employment in their fields of study are often settling for menial part-time jobs until better times come around. The unemployment for Turks between the ages of 15 and 24 stands at 18.6 percent – nearly double the national average
The Case for Working With Your Hands (United Stated 2009)
Young Hit Hard by the Obama Economy (United States, 2012, Conservative op-ed)
America May Have Too Many College Graduates (United States, 2012)
New Normal: Majority Of Unemployed Attended College (United States, 2014)
Why Are So Many College Graduates Driving Taxis? (USA, 2013, Peter Orszag)
Edvisors (Website offering advice on higher education, USA)
Uncertain Future of Universities (USA, Europe, Global, 2012)
University of the Future (Australia, 2012, interesting chart in page 7)