Is education becoming a weaker determinant of occupation? Educational expansion and occupational returns to education in 30 European countries
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This article examines the relationship between education and occupation over the course of educational expansion. The authors analyse European Union Labour Force Survey (EU-LFS) data from 2014, 2015, and 2016 from 30 European countries and work with 12 graduated cohorts defined by the year in which they left the education system (2003–2014). They use a multilevel model approach and measure education in both absolute and relative terms. The results show that during the time of educational expansion there was no change in the relationship between education and occupation if education is conceptualised in absolute terms. However, a change in this relationship is visible when education is conceptualised as a positional good. Many previous studies that have posed a similar research question did not consider study field. The results here show that the role of study field changed during this time of educational expansion, with natural science, computer, and IT study fields growing stronger than other fields of study. The authors interpret the strengthening of education as a positional good in reference to the theory of skill-biased technological change.
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