Overeducation in Europe and in Italy.
Do we have to take it seriously?
Overeducation can represent a symptom of a serious disequilibrium in the accumulation of human capital, one of the drivers which led the economic growth of advanced countries since their earlier industrialization and one of the main factors which are expected to sustain the growth in the next future. On the theoretical level various explanations of overeducation have been advanced, while empirical research points out a number of factors contributing to determine it in the labour market, but information and methodological limitations have not allowed until now to reach any conclusive results. This paper draws information from existing studies and from some original estimates providing comparative data on the diffusion of overeducation in the European countries to put in evidence a few stylized facts on the incidence of it and to gain insights into the relative position of Italy among them. The Italian case stands out as the level of education of its labour supply still lags behind that of European partners while the incidence of overeducation is well above the European average. A tentative interpretation of that paradox is drafted on the basis of results and suggestions derived from the body of available literature.