East versus West? Over-qualification and Earnings among the UK's European Migrants

Ron Johnston*, Nabil Khattab, David J Manley

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

61 Citations (Scopus)


West and East Europeans have been important components of the migration flows into the UK in the last decade, but they remain largely under-studied. This paper utilises 12 quarters of the Labour Force Survey for the years 2002–2013 to examine patterns of over-qualification and their impact on those migrants' earnings. The findings show a clear and greater penalty for East Europeans. They were more likely than the majority White-British and West European migrants to be substantially over-qualified and have earned the lowest pay premium on their excess education. The East European migrants' double penalty is explained by their over-concentration in the secondary labour market where discrimination by employers, exploitation and lower rewards are common practices. Contrary to this, West European migrants enjoy a much better labour market position as they are able to successfully negotiate access to its primary sector.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)196-218
Number of pages23
JournalJournal of Ethnic and Migration Studies
Issue number2
Early online date21 Jul 2014
Publication statusPublished - 2015

Structured keywords

  • SPAIS Centre for the Study of Ethnicity and Citizenship


  • Over-qualification
  • Earnings
  • European Migrants
  • UK


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