Stefani Scherer
Sprungbrett oder Falle? Konsequenzen der Position des Erwerbseintritts auf den Karriereverlauf in Westdeutschland, Großbritannien und Italien

Pp. 137-165 in: Walter Müller, Stefani Scherer (Eds.): Mehr Risiken - mehr Ungleichheit? Abbau von Wohlfahrtsstaat, Flexibilisierung von Arbeit und die Folgen. 2003. Frankfurt: Campus

The recent increase in 'atypical' entries into the labour market has been accompanied by a growing body of research into the consequences of specific forms of labour market entry for future career chances. This paper addresses the question of whether first job functions as a 'stepping stone' or a 'trap' by using individual longitudinal data to estimate the consequences for future occupational attainment of entry into the labour market as (a) an over-qualified worker or (b) via certain kinds of contracts. Cross-national comparison of (West) Germany, Great Britain and Italy allows an assessment of the impact of different labour market structures on this allocation process.
In all three countries, overqualified labour market entry is associated with a higher probability of upward mobility. However, this appears to result from the lower status first jobs obtained by over-qualified workers being less constrained by ceiling effects. Despite these higher mobility chances, moreover, the initial disadvantage associated with over-qualification is not fully overcome during future careers: Over-qualification still negatively influences the subsequent attainment of labour market positions. In general, therefore, the findings are not consistent with the hypothesis that ‘under-qualified’ positions serve as stepping stones to future occupational attainment, but instead provide some support for the entrapment hypothesis. No negative effects of the type of contract is found for the occupational positions held later on- everything else being equal.
The cross-national comparison further reveals that these consequences are influenced by the prevailing mobility structure in the labour market: In the relatively flexible British labour market the first job has only a weak impact on future career chances and (over) qualified workers are more likely than others to escape from lower status occupations. In contrast, in the more tightly regulated and segmented German and Italian labour markets the first job has a strong impact on future outcomes and overqualified workers do indeed remain trapped in their initial lower status positions. The findings support the idea about different labour market mobility regimes prevailing within the these three countries.