Underutilisation of Labour: Underemployment and Skills-Mismatch in Turkey

Main Article Content

Zeynep Başak
Caner Özdemir


This paper aims to reveal the extent and characteristics of under and inadequate forms of employment in Turkey. Our descriptive analysis using the Household Labour Force Surveys of 2014-2021 shows that despite not being unemployed, many people do not work in their full capacity or cannot enter the workforce, although they are willing to do so. In addition, the size of these groups varies due to age, sex and education level. To better understand the demographic and socioeconomic determinants of skill-related underemployment, the incidence and evolution of education-occupation mismatch are investigated using the Income and Living Conditions Survey (SILC) of 2016-2021. The results of the multinomial logit models using SILC-2021 indicate that age and education effects are similar for both sexes, but marital status, number of kids and household size have diverging effects for men and women. Moreover, the effects of household income, excluding the respondents’ income, social transfers and social security registration in the household confirm the reservation income hypothesis.

JEL Codes: A14, J01, J10, J24, C31
Keywords: Underemployment, Youth unemployment, Skills-mismatch, Education-occupation mismatch


Download data is not yet available.

Article Details

How to Cite
Başak, Z. and Özdemir, C. (2023) “Underutilisation of Labour: Underemployment and Skills-Mismatch in Turkey”, World Journal of Applied Economics, 9(2), pp. 125-148. doi: 10.22440/wjae.9.2.2.
Research Articles


Acar, E. O. (2017). The effects of education-job mismatch on wages: A panel analysis of the Turkish labor market. Uluslararası İktisadi ve İdari İncelemeler Dergisi, 18, 339-354. doi:10.35808/ijeba/576

Acosta-Ballesteros, J., Rosal, O.-d., M. D., P., & Rodriguez-Rodríguez, O. M. (2018). Underemployment and employment among young workers and the business cycle in Spain: The importance of education level and specialisation. Journal of Education and Work, 31, 28-46. doi:10.1080/13639080.2017.1395512

Acosta-Ballesteros, J., Rosal, O.-d., M. D., P., & Rodriguez-Rodríguez, O. M. (2021). Measuring the effect of gender segregation on the gender gap in time-related underemployment. Journal for Labour Market Research, 55. doi:10.1186/s12651-021-00305-0

Adalet McGowan, M., & Andrews, D. (2015). Labour Market Mismatch and Labour Productivity: Evidence from PIAAC Data. Working Paper, OECD Economics Department. doi:10.1787/5js1pzx1r2kb-en

Addison, J. T., Chen, L., & Özturk, O. D. (2020). Occupational Skill Mismatch: Differences by Gender and Cohort. ILR Review, 73, 730–767. doi:10.1177/0019793919873864

Aina, C., Brunetti, I., Mussida, C., & Scicchitano, S. (2021). Even more discouraged? The NEET generation at the age of COVID-19. Working Paper, INAPP. doi:10.53223/InappWP_2021-68

Alba-Ramirez, A. (1993). Mismatch in the Spanish Labor Market: Overeducation? The Journal of Human Resources, 28, 259–278. doi:10.2307/146203

Allen, K. (2016). Top girls navigating austere times: Interrogating youth transitions since the ‘crisis’. Journal of Youth Studies, 19, 805–820. doi:10.1080/13676261.2015.1112885

Bauer, T. K. (2002). Educational mismatch and wages: A panel analysis. Economics of Education Review, 21, 221–229. doi:10.1016/S0272-7757(01)00004-8

Bell, D. N., & Blanchflower, D. G. (2020). US and UK labour markets before and during the COVID-19 crash. National Institute Economic Review, 252, R52–R69. doi:10.1017/nie.2020.14

Buchel, F. (2001). Overqualification: Reasons, measurement issues and typo- logical affinity to unemployment. In P. Descy, & M. Tessaring (Eds.), Training in Europe. Second report on vocational training research in Europe 2000: Background report (pp. 453–560). Office for Publications of the European Communities.

Buchel, F., & Battu, H. (2003). The Theory of Differential Overqualification: Does it Work? Scottish Journal of Political Economy, 50, 1-16. doi:10.1111/1467-9485.00251

Caroleo, F. E., & Pastore, F. (2013). Overeducation at a glance: Determinants and wage effects of the educational mismatch, looking at the almalaurea data. Discussion Paper, IZA.

Chan, S., & Stevens, A. H. (2004). How does job loss affect the timing of retirement? Contributions to Economic Analysis & Policy, 3, 1-24. doi:10.2202/1538-0645.1187

Dayioglu, M., & Kasnakoglu, Z. (1997). Kentsel kesimde kadin ve erkeklerin isgücüne katilimlari ve kazanc farkliliklari. ODTU Gelişme Dergisi, 24, 329–361.

Dayioglu, M., & Kirdar, M. (2010). Determinants of and Trends in Labor Force Participation of Women in Turkey. Working Paper, State Planning Organization of the Republic of Turkey and The World Bank. doi:10.1596/27853

Dean Avila, D., & Lunsford, K. G. (2022). Underemployment following the great recession and the COVID-19 recession. Economic Commentary, 2022, 1-6. doi:10.26509/frbc-ec-202201

Dekker, R., de Grip, A., & Heijke, H. (2002). The effects of training and overeducation on career mobility in a segmented labour market. International Journal of Manpower, 23, 106–125. doi:10.1108/01437720210428379

Doiron, D. J. (2003). Is under-employment due to labour hoarding? Evidence from the Australian Workplace Industrial Relations Survey. The Economic Record, 79, 306–323. doi:10.1111/1475-4932.00106

Duman, A. (2018). Education Mismatches in the Labor Markets and Their Impact on Wages across Sectors: Evidence from Turkey. Sosyoekonomi, 26, 227–242. doi:10.17233/sosyoekonomi.2018.03.13

Erdogan, B., & Bauer, T. N. (2009). Perceived overqualification and its outcomes: The moderating role of empowerment. Journal of Applied Psychology, 94, 557–565. doi:10.1037/a0013528

Espi-Sanchis, G., Leibbrandt, M., & Ranchhod, V. (2022). Age, employment and labour force participation outcomes in COVID-era South Africa. Development Southern Africa, 39, 664–688. doi:10.1080/0376835X.2022.2051439

European Commission. (2023). Turkiye. Turkiye.

Feldman, D. C. (1996). The nature, antecedents and consequences of underemployment. Journal of Management, 22, 385–407. doi:10.1016/S0149-2063(96)90030-6

Feldman, D. C., & Leana, C. R. (2000). What ever happened to laid-off executives? A study of reemployment challenges after downsizing. Organizational Dynamics, 29, 64–75. doi:10.1016/S0090-2616(00)00013-9

Feldman, D. C., Leana, C. R., & Bolino, M. C. (2002). Underemployment and relative deprivation among re-employed executives. Journal of Occupational and Organizational Psychology, 75, 453–471. doi:10.1348/096317902321119682

Filiz, E. S. (2017). The Effect of Unemployment Insurance Generosity on Unemployment Duration and Labor Market Transitions. Labour, 31, 369–393. doi:10.1111/labr.12104

Filiztekin, A. (2015). Turkiye Emek Piyasasinda Egitim-Is Uyusmazligi. In N. Yildirim (Ed.), Tuncer Bulutay’a Armagan (pp. 199–212). Mulkiyeliler Birligi Yayinlari.

Frank, R. H. (1978). Why Women Earn Less: The Theory and Estimation of Differential Overqualification. American Economic Review, 68, 360–373.

Frei, C., & Sousa-Poza, A. (2012). Overqualification: Permanent or transitory? Applied Economics, 44, 1837–1847. doi:10.1080/00036846.2011.554380

Gormus, A. (2019). Turkiye’de Zamana Dayali Eksik Istihdamin Karakteristigi: Hanehalki Isgucu Anketlerinden Bulgular. Sosyoekonomi, 27, 67–90. doi:10.17233/sosyoekonomi.2019.02.04

Gould, E., & Kassa, M. (2020). Young workers hit hard by the COVID-19 economy. Report, Economic Policy Institute.

Grapsa, E. (2017). How well matched are South African workers to their jobs? A comprehensive analysis of education and skills mismatch. Working Paper, LMIP.

Greenwood, A. M. (1999). International definitions and prospects of Underemployment Statistics. Proceeding, ILO Bureau of Statistics.

Groot, W., & van den Brink, H. M. (2000). Overeducation in the labor market: A meta-analysis. Economics of Education Review, 19, 149–158. doi:10.1016/S0272-7757(99)00057-6

Haddad, G. K., & Habibi, N. (2017). Vertical skill mismatch and wage consequences in low-skilled jobs: Evidence from Iran. International Labour Review, 156, 45–72. doi:10.1111/ilr.12000

Hlasny, V., & AlAzzawi, S. (2022). Last in After COVID-19: Employment Prospects of Youths during a Pandemic Recovery. Forum for Social Economics, 51, 235–244. doi:10.1080/07360932.2022.2052738

Holtom, B. C., Lee, T. W., & Tidd, S. T. (2002). The relationship between work status congruence and work-related attitudes and behaviors. Journal of Applied Psychology, 87, 903–915. doi:10.1037/0021-9010.87.5.903

Human Resources Office. (2022). Methodology of Uni-Veri. Methodology of Uni-Veri.

ILO. (1998). Resolution concerning the measurement of underemployment and inadequate employment situations, adopted by the Sixteenth International Conference of Labour Statisticians. Proceeding, International Labour Organisation.

ILO. (2014). Skills mismatch in Europe: Statistics brief. Brief, International Labour Organisation.

ILO. (2018). Measurement of qualifications and skills mismatches of persons in employment. Proceeding, International Labour Organisation.

Jefferson, T., & Preston, A. (2010). Labour markets and wages in Australia in 2009. Journal of Industrial Relations, 52, 335–354. doi:10.1177/0022185610365637

Jensen, L., & Slack, T. (2003). Underemployment in America: Measurement and evidence. American Journal of Community Psychology, 32, 21-31. doi:10.1023/A:1025686621578

Johansson, M., & Katz, K. (2007). Wage differences between women and men in Sweden: The impact of skill mismatch. Working Paper, Institute for Labour Market Policy Evaluation (IFAU), Uppsala.

Johnson, G. J., & Johnson, W. R. (2000). Perceived overqualification and dimensions and job satisfaction: A longitudinal analysis. The Journal of Psychology, 134, 537–555. doi:10.1080/00223980009598235

Kamerade, D., & Richardson, H. (2017). Gender segregation, underemployment and subjective well-being in the UK labour market. Human Relations, 71, 285–309. doi:10.1177/0018726717713829

Kantarmaci, S., Demirogullari, S., Erk, H., & Ucdogruk, Ş. (2021). Turkiye Isgucu Piyasasinda Bireylerin Asiri Egitimliliginin Olculmesi: Iki Degiskenli Probit Model Uygulamasi. Sosyoekonomi, 29, 271-292. doi:10.17233/sosyoekonomi.2021.02.14

Kesler, C., & Bash, S. (2021). A Growing Educational Divide in the COVID-19 Economy Is Especially Pronounced among Parents. Socius, 7. doi:10.1177/2378023120979804

Khan, A., Khan, N., & Shafiq, M. (2021). The economic impact of COVID-19 from a global perspective. Contemporary Economics, 15, 64–76. doi:10.5709/ce.1897-9254.436

Kinicki, A. J., Prussia, G. E., & McKee-Ryan, F. M. (2000). A panel study of coping with involuntary job loss. The Academy of Management Journal, 43, 90–100. doi:10.2307/1556388

Koeber, C., & Wright, D. W. (2001). W/age bias in worker displacement: How industrial structure shapes the job loss and earnings decline of older American workers. The Journal of Socio-Economics, 30, 343–352. doi:10.1016/S1053-5357(01)00104-4

Kucukbayrak, M. (2012). Turkiye’de issizlik sigortasinin kapsami ve issizlik ve istihdam suresi acisindan degerlendirilmesi. Uzmanlik Tezi, T.C. Kalkınma Bakanligi.

Kumas, H., & Caglar, A. (2011). Turkiye’de Kadin Eksik Istihdamini Belirleyen Faktorler: Tuik 2009 Hanehalki Isgucu Anketi Ham Verileri Ile Cinsiyete Dayali Bir Karsilastirma. Calisma ve Toplum, 2011/2, 249–289.

Leana, C. R., & Feldman, D. C. (1995). Finding new jobs after a plant closing: Antecedents and outcomes of the occurrence and quality of reemployment. Human Relations, 48, 1381–1401. doi:10.1177/001872679504801201

MacDonald, R. (2011). Youth transitions, unemployment and underemployment: Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose? Journal of Sociology, 47, 427–444. doi:10.1177/1440783311420794

Mau, W.-C., & Kopischke, A. (2001). Job search methods, job search outcomes, and job satisfaction of college graduates: A comparison of race and sex. Journal of Employment Counselling, 38, 141–149. doi:10.1002/j.2161-1920.2001.tb00496.x

McGoldrick, K., & Robst, J. (1996). Gender Differences in Overeducation: A Test of the Theory of Differential Overqualification. American Economic Review, 86, 280–284.

McGuinness, S., Pouliakas, K., & Redmond, P. (2017). How useful is the concept of skills mismatch? Background Note, ILO.

McKee-Ryan, F. M., & Harvey, J. (2011). 'I Have a Job, But...': A Review of Underemployment. Journal of Management, 37, 962–996. doi:10.1177/0149206311398134

Mendoza, C., Ortiz, A., & Oliveras, X. (2020). Labour incorporation of young southern European graduates in Mexico: The impact of the economic crisis. Journal of Youth Studies, 23, 959–973. doi:10.1080/13676261.2019.1645948

Meyer, D. F., & Mncayi, P. (2021). An Analysis of Underemployment among Young Graduates: The Case of a Higher Education Institution in South Africa. Economies, 9, 196. doi:10.3390/economies9040196

More, S., & Rosenbloom, T. (2022). Career history and career identity: Antecedents of job field underemployment. International Journal for Educational and Vocational Guidance, 22, 49–65. doi:10.1007/s10775-021-09472-5

Moro-Egido, A. I. (2020). Gender differences in skill mismatches. Review of Public Economics, 235, 29–60. doi:10.7866/HPE-RPE.20.4.3

OECD. (2002). Glossary of Statistical Terms. Glossary of Statistical Terms.

OECD. (2016). Skills Matter: Further results from the survey of adult skills. Skills Matter: Further results from the survey of adult skills.

Orbay, B. Z., Aydede, Y., & Erkol, N. (2021). Why does field of study–occupation mismatch have no effect on wages in Turkish labour markets? Applied Economics, 53, 6683–6701. doi:10.1080/00036846.2021.1937500

Philp, B., & Wheatley, D. (2013). European work time regulation, surplus-value and underemployment among full-time employees: A cross-sectional analysis using the 2009 EU LFS. Economic Issues, 18, 57–74.

Renes, G., & Ridder, G. (1995). Are women overqualified. Labour Economics, 2, 3-18. doi:10.1016/0927-5371(95)80003-G

Ruhm, C. J. (1990). Bridge Jobs and Partial Retirement. Journal of Labor Economics, 8, 482–501. doi:10.1086/298231

Sahin, O. (2021). Regional Analysis of Skills-Mismatch in Turkish Labor Markets. Iktisat Politikasi Arastirmalari Dergisi, 8, 1–27. doi:10.26650/JEPR813711

Sala, G. (2011). Approaches to Skills Mismatch in the Labour Market: A Literature Review. Revista de Sociologia, 96, 1025–1045. doi:10.5565/rev/papers/v96n4.171

Sengenberger, W. (2011). Beyond the measurement of unemployment and underemployment: The case for amending labour market statistics. Beyond the measurement of unemployment and underemployment: The case for amending labour market statistics.

Sicherman, N. (1991). 'Overeducation' in the Labor Market. Journal of Labor Economics, 9, 101–122. doi:10.1086/298261

Suleman, F., & Figueiredo, M. d. (2020). Entering the labour market in the context of higher education reform and economic recession: Young bachelor and master graduates in Portugal. Journal of Youth Studies, 23, 1396–1417. doi:10.1080/13676261.2019.1679744

Sutherland, J. (2012). Qualifications mismatch and skills mismatch. Education + Training, 54, 619–632. doi:10.1108/00400911211265666

Tam, H. (2010). Characteristics of the underemployed and the overemployed in the UK. Economic & Labour Market Review, 2010, 8-20. doi:10.1057/elmr.2010.92

Tasci, H. M., & Darici, B. (2010). Türkiye’de Eksik İstihdamın Belirleyenleri: HIA ile Bir Mikro Veri Uygulaması. Maliye Dergisi, 158, 278–300.

Taymaz, E. (2010). Growth, Employment, Skills and Female Labor Force. Report, State Planning Organization of the Republic of Turkey and The World Bank. doi:10.1596/27835

Tunali, I., & Baslevent, C. (2006). Female labor supply in Turkey. In S. Altug, & A. Filiztekin (Eds.), The Turkish Economy: The real economy, corporate governance and reform. Routledge.

Tunali, I., & Ulus, M. (2021). Incentives and Exit Behavior: An Examination of the Unemployment Insurance System in Turkey. Prooceeding, ERF 27th Annual Conference.

Uraz, A., Aran, M., Husamoglu, M., Sanalmis, D. O., & Capar, S. (2010). Recent Trends in Female Labor Force Participation in Turkey. Report, State Planning Organization of the Republic of Turkey and The World Bank.

Vera-Toscano, E., & Meroni, E. C. (2021). An Age–Period–Cohort Approach to the Incidence and Evolution of Overeducation and Skills Mismatch. Social Indicators Research, 153, 711–740. doi:10.1007/s11205-020-02514-5

Virick, M. (2011). Underemployment and Older Workers. In D. Maynard, & D. C. Feldman (Eds.), Underemployment. Springer.

Virick, M., & McKee-Ryan, F. M. (2017). The willingness to be underemployed: A study of unemployed professionals. Journal of Managerial Issues, 29, 322–342.

Weststar, J. (2009). Worker Control as a Facilitator in the Match between Education and Jobs. British Journal of Industrial Relations, 47, 723–740. doi:10.1111/j.1467-8543.2009.00737.x

Wilkins, R. (2007). The consequences of underemployment for the underemployed. Journal of Industrial Relations, 49, 247–275. doi:10.1177/0022185607074921