Wages and employment by level of education and occupation in Belgium
Faculty of Applied Economics
Brussels :Federal Planning Bureau, 2008
Working paper / Federal Planning Bureau ; 22-08
University of Antwerp
Increased international economic integration and skill-biased technological change are often regarded as the main drivers of the rising inequality in wages and employment witnessed in industrialized countries in recent decades as they are believed to emphasize differences between individuals in level of education. However, proponents of a task-based view of technological change and offshoring stress the evolving content of tasks as the major determinant of shifts in labour demand and argue that this does not necessarily imply a clear-cut match between the level of education and job opportunities. Belgian data from the Structure and Distribution of Earnings Survey for the period 1999-2004 suggest that the level of wages is significantly correlated with the level of education but wage growth is not. Occupation seems to explain a statistically significant part of the wage level as well as wage growth of workers. The analysis supports the view that the level of education provides less information than the occupation of workers in explaining changes in wages and employment. Overall, it appears that a policy that simply aims to increase the level of education of the active population is not warranted. In addition to the risk of over-education, such a policy is not likely to alleviate the mismatch which to some extent exists between the competencies required by employers and the competencies offered by workers and the unemployed.