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Highly educated but in the wrong field? educational specialisation and labour market risks of men and women in Spain and Germany in higher education

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  • David Reimer
  • Stephanie Steinmetz, Erasmus University Rotterdam, Netherlands
  • Danish Clearinghouse for Educational Research


This paper investigates the impact of gender differences in tertiary education, i.e., field of study and level of tertiary degree, on two selected labour market risks: unemployment and low-status jobs. Using Labour Force Survey data from the year 2000, results of the logistic regression models and non-linear decomposition analyses generally confirm our expectation that the field of study explains a sizable portion of the gender gap in unemployment and low-status jobs in both countries. However, the level of tertiary degree earned explains only part of the female disadvantage behind holding a low-status job in Spain. The analyses also show that compared to men, women with a degree in a predominantly male field of study seem to be systematically disadvantaged in both Germany and Spain, particularly with respect to unemployment. Overall, the analyses reveal that gender differentiation in tertiary education leads to similar outcomes in two very different institutional contexts.

Original languageEnglish
JournalEuropean Societies
Pages (from-to)723-746
Number of pages23
Publication statusPublished - 2009

    Research areas

  • higher education, gender equality, graduates

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