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Abstract

Recent literature suggests that vocational education provides individuals with smoother transitions into the labor market but lower wages over the lifecycle. A possible mechanism explaining lower wages is horizontal mismatch, defined as a mismatch between qualifications acquired by individuals and those required for their current job. Some studies have found higher mismatch wage penalties when individuals' education is more specific. Therefore, we analyze horizontal mismatch in Switzerland, the country with the highest proportion of firm-based vocational education and training in the OECD. We use subjective and objective measures of mismatch from the Swiss Household Panel. While we find sizeable mismatch wage penalties in OLS estimations, effects are small or insignificant in fixed-effects regressions. This holds for workers with vocational and general education background alike. We conclude that vocational education is more transferable than often assumed. We finish with recommendations on concept and methods for future analyses of horizontal mismatch.

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