22 SES 07 D, Graduates and Employability
Regret is a very frequent and unpleasant kind of emotion that people experience when they realize that their current situation might have been better if they had made another decision sometime in the past (Kucel & Vilata-Bufí, 2013; Zeelenberg, 1999). Much of the research has focused on the properties of regret by distinguishing, for example, between regret of action and regret of inaction (Roese & Summerville, 2005). In our study, we take as a starting point the idea of Mora (2010) who understands regret as a subjective opinion about a decision taken.
There are many important decisions we make in our lives. The meta-analysis conducted by Roese & Summerville (2005), based on 11 classification studies, revealed that the two main regrets of life are, in this order, education and career. The principle of lost opportunity offers an explanation to this fact. According to this, the biggest disappointments occur in those domains of life that offer less opportunities for change in the future (Beike, Markman & Karadogan, 2009). The choice of a study program is an example of this type of decisions. In addition, education allows access to other important goals, such as better salaries or greater social contacts. Individuals can also think that a failure in these goals could have been avoided with another type of education.
In the international context, Ortiz and McGuinness (2018) shows that almost 30% of university graduates would not study the same study program again. The study conducted by Finnie (2004) to 2 cohorts of graduates in Canada reveals that the incidence of regret is greater 5 years after graduation. The research carried out in Spain by Michavila, Martínez, Martín-González, García-Peñalvo & Cruz-Benito (2016) offers similar data: 33% of university graduates would not study the same study program again.
As we have pointed out, regret is an opinion about a decision taken. In this sense, when an individual chooses to undertake university studies and chooses a particular field, he does so with the expectation of working in an occupation related to that field (Nordin, Persson & Rooth, 2010; Robst, 2007). But the work developed is not always adequate to the studies. This phenomenon is known as education-job mismatch. The literature has identified two main types of mismatch. Firstly, vertical mismatch. This occurs when level of education or qualification is less or more than required in the job. Secondly, horizontal mismatch, which occurs when the type or field of education is not related with the job (Kim, Ahn, & Kim, 2016; Nordin et al., 2010). The consequences of the mismatch on salaries and job satisfaction have been more studied (Nordin et al., 2010; Robst, 2007) than the effect of mismatch on regret. We highlight two studies: Borghans & Golsteyn (2007) analyze the influence of mismatch on regret from the perspective of mobility; Kucel & Vilalta-Bufí (2013) develop a comparative analysis of regret between Spanish and Dutch graduates.
Assuming, as we have pointed out, that regret requires counterfactual reasoning, that is, a comparison between past decisions and current results (Kucel & Vilata-Bufí, 2013), we hypothesize that the non-fulfillment of the expectations derived from the education-job mismatch is related with the likelihood of regret.
Our aim is to analyze the relationship of both types of mismatch with regret, taking into account the influence of educational and labour related variables.
We have performed an ex-post-facto, non-experimental, cross-sectional and correlational-predictive design. Data: We have used the data from the statistical operation Survey on the Labour Insertion of University Graduates carried out by the Statistics National Institute (INE, 2014). The database collects information on 30379 university graduates who completed their studies in the academic year 2009-2010. Our final sample has been of 15142 subjects who provided information to all the variables selected for this study. Variables: For the measurement of the dependent variable, we have used question 12 of the questionnaire: “Would you study the same degree again?” which is a dichotomous variable with the values yes (0) and no (1=regret). 4 groups of exogenous variables have been taken into account: Firstly, the mismatch. For the study of the horizontal mismatch, we have used the answer to the following question: “Taking into account your job, what do you think is, or was, the most appropriate field of study for this job?” (in the first job and in the current-last job). The constructed variables take the values 0 (match), with the categories: exclusively the field of study of the grade of "..." and the field of study of the degree of "..." or some related field; and 1 (mismatch), with the categories: a totally different field and no particular field. For the measurement of the vertical mismatch the question has been used: “What do you think was the most appropriate level of training to carry out this work?” (in the first job and in the current-last job). It has been considered well-matched (0) the answer: university degree, and mismatched (1) the rest of options. In the second group are personal variables: sex, age and personality characteristics (social skills, communication, …). Thirdly, the competences. We distinguish between specific competences (theoretical knowledge) and general competences (management competences, planning, languages and ICT). In the fourth group are labour variables. We have collected the information about the salary (according to quintiles) and the type of contract (permanent or temporary). Finally, we have included, as a control variable, the field of study that groups the degrees of the university system into 5 areas, according with the survey's classification. Procedure: First, a bivariate descriptive analysis has been done to know the incidence of regret according to types of mismatch. Second, we have developed a logistic regression model to know the direct effects of the variables chosen on the regret.
We have found that 27% of graduates reports that they would not study the same degree again (regret). This result is similar to that found by Ortiz and McGuinness (2018). Nevertheless, the percentage is higher for the group of mismatched workers in their current employment: 47% in the case of horizontal mismatch and 43% in the case of vertical mismatch. The regression model shows that education-job mismatch is a factor that is significantly related with a greater likelihood of program regret, but only in the case of horizontal mismatch. Similar results have been found by Kucel & Vilalta-Bufí (2013). The mismatch in the first job is associated with more likelihood of program regret (41%). In the case of the mismatch in the current-last employment, the percentage is higher (82%). This implies that regret is related with the experiences in the labour market (Finnie, 2004). Supporting these results, we have found that a greater usefulness of specific skills in employment leads to a lower likelihood of regret (58% less). Vertical mismatch does not affect the likelihood of regret. Personal and demographic characteristics and labour variables, such as type of contract and salary, also do not have a significant effect. In summary, among all the analyzed variables, the horizontal mismatch is the most correlated with regret. Nevertheless, 53% of horizontal mismatched workers do not regret their studies. So that, the education-job mismatch shouldn’t be considered as a negative situation per se. We conclude that to understand the regret, what is important is not only the mismatch. Other critical reasons are involved in the professional career decisions, among them, those related to the family (Rodríguez-Esteban, Vidal & Vieira, in press). These reasons should therefore be considered in future research to understand the relationship between education-job mismatch and regret.
Beike, D. & Markman, K. & Karadogan, F. (2009). What We Regret Most Are Lost Opportunities: A Theory of Regret Intensity. Personality & social psychology bulletin. 35, 385-97. doi: 10.1177/0146167208328329 Borghans, L. & Golsteyn, B. (2007) Skill Transferability, Regret and Mobility. Applied Economics. 39 (13), 1663-1678. Retrieved from https://www.iza.org/publications/dp/2021/skill-transferability-regret-and-mobility Finnie, R. (2004). The school-to-work transition of Canadian post-secondary graduates: a dynamic analysis. Journal of Higher Education Policy and Management, 26(1), 35-58. doi: 10.1080/1360080042000182528 INE (2014). Encuesta de inserción laboral de los titulados universitarios. Retrieved from http://www.ine.es/dyngs/INEbase/es/operacion.htm?c=Estadistica_C&cid=1254736176991&menu=ultiDatos&idp=1254735976597. Kim, H., Ahn, S. & Kim, J. (2016). The income penalty of vertical and horizontal education-job mismatches in the Korean Youth Labor Market: A quantile regression approach. Hitotsubashi Journal of Economics. 57(1), 67-90. doi: 10.15057/27941 Kucel, A. & Vilalta-Bufí, M. (2013) Why do tertiary education graduates regret their study program? A comparison between Spain and the Netherlands. Higher Education. 65(5), 565-579. doi: 10.1007/s10734-012-9563-y Michavila, F., Martínez, J. M., Martín-González, M., García-Peñalvo, F. J. & Cruz-Benito, J. (2016). Barómetro de Empleabilidad y Empleo de los Universitarios en España, 2015. Madrid: Observatorio de Empleabilidad y Empleo Universitarios. Mora, T. (2010) Why do higher graduates regret their field of studies? Some evidence from Catalonia, Spain. Education Economics. 18(1),93-109. doi:10.1080/09645290802018001 Nordin, M., Persson, I., & Rooth, D. O. (2010). Education-occupation mismatch: Is there an income penalty? Economics of Education Review. 29(6), 1047-1059. doi: 10.1016/j.econedurev.2010.05.005 Ortiz, L. & McGuinness S. (2018) Overeducation Among European University Graduates: A Constraint or a Choice? In: M. Malo & A. Moreno-Mínguez (eds) European Youth Labour Markets. Springer, Cham. Pag 157-174. doi: 10.1007/978-3-319-68222-8_11 Robst, J. (2007) Education and job match: the relatedness of college major and work. Economics of Education Review, 26, 397–407. doi: 10.1016/j.econedurev.2006.08.003 Rodríguez-Esteban, A.; Vidal, J. & Vieira, M-J. (in press) An analysis of the employability of Spanish graduates through the Horizontal Match. Revista de Educación. Roese, N. & Summerville, A. (2005) What We Regret Most … and Why. Pers Soc Psychol Bull. 31(9), 1273–1285. doi: 10.1177/0146167205274693 Zeelenberg, M. (1999) Anticipated Regret, Expected Feedback and Behavioral Decision Making. Journal of Behavioral Decision Making 12(2), 93 – 106 Zeelenberg, M. & Pieters, R. (2007) A Theory of Regret Regulation 1.0. Journal of Consumer Psychology. 17(1), 3-18. doi: 10.1207/s15327663jcp1701_3
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