current projects

Ethnic diversity, trust and social distancing during the corona-pandemic

Ongoing research with Markus Konrad, Ruud Koopmans and James Laurence. A short research note has been published in the WZB Mitteilungen 168.

Residential mobility among ethnic minorities in Germany and its consequences for well-being and social embeddedness (WELLMOB)

My postdoc project with Merlin Schaeffer and Sarah Carol. We investigate the role of neighborhood characteristics for the wellbeing of ethnic minorities in Germany using granular data on places of residence and on moves.

Against the odds. Education-to-job matches and less-educated workers’ pathways into success

PhD dissertation. Currently under review.

Skill-shortages or credential inflation? A cohort-analysis of qualification mismatches in Great Britain and Germany

Working paper.
Over the past century, completion of educational programs at all levels has increased dramatically. This dramatic expansion of education has been recognized by sociologist as one of the major forces shaping social change. However, it remains debated whether educational expansion has outstripped the demand for qualified labour, resulting in credential-inflation, or, whether, despite increases in education, modern economies face a skill-shortage. Focussing on the United Kingdom and West Germany, two highly developed, but institutionally dissimilar countries, this paper therefore asks to what degree the sharp expansion of education has been absorbed by labour markets. I point out shortcomings of traditional wage-centred analyses and develop an alternative approach that focuses on period and cohort trends in self-reported mismatches between individuals’ education and their jobs, that is, on over- and underqualification.  Based on repeated surveys (UK: Skills and Employment Survey, 1986-2017; Germany: Socioeconomic Panel Study, 1984-2016) and on official labour force surveys, I show that overqualification has increased and underqualification decreased in the United Kingdom since the 1980s, both over historical time and over cohorts. In Germany, by contrast, mismatch-differences are minimal between cohorts, but the overall incidence of underqualification increased whereas overqualification decreased. Further analyses of cohort-differences in mismatch provide clear evidence that overqualification increased with educational expansion in the United Kingdom but not in Germany. I document that credential inflation at the tertiary level trickled down the qualification hierarchy in the United Kingdom, suggesting a labour queue mechanism and a positional value of education. My findings document that the United Kingdom experiences credential inflation, whereas West-Germany is affected by a mild skill-shortage, mainly among middling positions that require vocational training. I relate these findings to well-documented differences in patterns of educational expansion between the United Kingdom and Germany that are rooted in contrasting institutional logics.

Political and Social Consequences of Qualification Mismatches. A bounding approach to status inconsistency

Preprint available at SocArXiv.

A significant number of employees work in jobs that do not match their level of formal education. Status inconsistency theory (SIT) argues that mismatches result in stress, political alienation, and social withdrawal. As the number of mismatched workers rises in many countries, status inconsistency may pose a threat to social cohesion and political moderation there. However, the existing evidence on the social and political consequences of mismatch is neither conclusive nor convincing. Previous SIT scholarship does not fully appreciate two identification problems: Selection bias and the perfect collinearity among the effects of occupation, education, and mismatch. These issues lead to contradictory conclusions, as different methodological fixes are proposed and employed. I review these methods for their theoretical content and show that they generally do not answer the purported research question. To address these problems, I build on recent advances in the modelling of age, period and cohort effects. My approach is based on relatively weak, transparent assumptions that are grounded in sociological theory to partially identify mismatch effects and estimate bounds on effect sizes. The empirical analysis draws on comparable large-scale survey data from the United Kingdom (UKLHS) and Germany (GSOEP). Cross-sectional and panel fixed-effects models show strong mismatch effects on work-related identities, satisfaction, and wages. Contra the SIT hypothesis, I find no evidence that mismatch effects spill over into the political domain. My results suggest that the effects of mismatches do not arise from cognitive dissonance, as theorized by SIT, but from an expectation formation mechanism. Despite large institutional differences, the results are very similar across countries.

Immigrant mens’ economic adaptation in changing labor markets. Why gaps between Turkish and German men expanded since 1976

Under review. With Johannes Giesecke.

This study examines how macro-social change in Germany has influenced the socio-economic position of male Turkish immigrants. We develop an analytical framework to assess how facets of social and economic change have shaped male immigrant-native gaps in labor market outcomes over time. Empirically, we focus on the first generation of male Turkish immigrants in Germany and use micro-census data spanning almost 40 years. Our methodology contributes a novel empirical quantification of key theoretical arguments to the literature. We find growing inter-group differences between the late-1970s and mid-2000s (employment) and mid-2010s (for incomes), respectively. The growth of differences between the immigrant and the native income distributions was most pronounced in their respective bottom halves. Our analysis show clearly that these trends are linked to the increased value of qualifications, to educational expansion in Germany, and to deindustrialization. Employment shifted away from middling positions in manufacturing, but while Germans tended to move into better paying positions, employment of Turkish immigrants mainly shifted into disadvantaged service jobs. These results provide novel evidence to claims that the economic assimilation of less-skilled immigrants may become structurally harder in increasingly post-industrial societies. We conclude that structural change in host countries is an important, yet often overlooked driver of immigrants’ socio-economic integration trajectories.

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