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Does early-career underemployment impact future career success? A path dependency perspective

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Whereas many studies have shown that underemployed people experience lower objective career success and lower subjective career success while being underemployed, little research has been done on the lasting effects of underemployment. This study addresses the role of time in career success research by examining the impact of level underemployment, content underemployment and contingent employment on subsequent objective (i.e. salary) and subjective career success (i.e. job satisfaction). Our 10-year longitudinal dataset of 335 Dutch university graduates permits us to examine the impact of preceding underemployment as well as the specific timing of the underemployment in one's career. The multilevel analysis results illustrate that level and contingent underemployment have a negative impact on future pay, whereas content underemployment negatively affects job satisfaction five years later. In addition, for level underemployment also the timing turns out to matter, suggesting that the signal that it sends to employers may differ depending on when in one's career it happened. Taken together, these findings point to the importance of using a path-dependency perspective when trying to understand people's career success.

    Research areas

  • Level underemployment, Content underemployment, Contingent employment, Salary, Job satisfaction, Path-dependency, UNDER-EMPLOYMENT, SCHOOL-LEAVERS, JOB, OVEREDUCATION, SATISFACTION, MISMATCH, CONSEQUENCES, EDUCATION, MOBILITY, MODEL


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Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)101-110
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Vocational Behavior
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2015