Political and Social Consequences of Qualification Mismatches: A bounding approach to status inconsistency
Many employees work in jobs that do not match their level of formal education. Status inconsistency theory (SIT) argues that such mismatches result in stress, dissatisfaction, political alienation, and social withdrawal. However, extant SIT scholarship does not fully appreciate the consequences of an identification problem due to the perfect collinearity among the effects of occupation, education, and their mismatch. I review the literature and show that prior findings depend on implicit theoretical assumptions that are often implausible once spelled out. To overcome this problem, I propose a new approach to the study of mismatches that builds on recent advances in the modelling of age, period and cohort effects and extends it to the case of fixed-effects panel analysis. I demonstrate how a set of relatively weak assumptions that are transparently grounded in sociological theory allows for (partial) identification of mismatch effects. The empirical analysis draws on comparable large-scale survey data from the United Kingdom (UKLHS) and Germany (GSOEP). Compared with previous research, I use theoretically justified identifying assumptions and provide more rigorous evidence by addressing non-random selection into mismatch. Cross-sectional and panel fixed-effects models show mismatch effects on work-related identities, satisfaction, and organizational integration.