The differences in job quality among higher education graduates in Europe
: a cross-national analysis of 17 countries

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisPhD


This thesis investigates the diversity in job quality of university graduates in 17 European countries using multilevel regression modelling, based on combined REFLEX and HEGESCO graduate survey data. The focus of the research is on aspects of graduate jobs that affect quality, especially the analytically neglected aspects of skill utilisation and work autonomy, as well as income, job security and work life balance First, for the purposes of measuring job quality, the thesis proposes an international multidimensional Graduate Job Quality Index (GJQI) with potential applications for further research and policy evaluation. Second, the thesis analyses variance in graduate job quality across 258 sectors of economic activity in the 17 countries studied, and identifies a number of factors that are correlated with overall job quality and its dimensions. The main research focus, however, is on contextual factors in the wider society and economy that help explain both diversity in job quality and differences between different sectors of the economy and different occupational groups. In particular: 1) the adoption of new computer technologies; 2) exposure to globalisation, and 3) high educational attainment in the labour force. The study tests two broadly contrasting theoretical approaches to differences in graduate job quality: skill-biased technological change theory (Acemoglu, 2002) and the new institutionalism (Baker, 2014) on the one hand, and the conflict theory of global knowledge capitalism (Brown et al., 2012) on the other, and in empirical terms finds more support for the latter of two theoretical accounts.
Date of Award27 Jun 2017
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of Bath
SupervisorHugh Lauder (Supervisor) & Andres Sandoval Hernandez (Supervisor)


  • Higher education
  • graduates
  • job quality
  • Europe

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