An allocation of persons to jobs which maximizes the strength of the relationship between education and status allows us to formulate and utilize a new hypothetical construct, called ‘meritocratic status’. We argue that in the course of an occupational career actual status depends on meritocratic status and its increment. An average trajectory of actual status for cohorts is modeled by means of a first order differential equation with two parameters. The first parameter measures the rate of convergence of actual status to meritocratic status, while the second parameter reflects the degree of departure from ‘pure meritocracy’. Empirical assessment of the model is based on retrospective job histories collected in the 1976 and 1980 surveys of Polish urban males. Trajectories of actual status for cohorts distinguished by the period of entry into the labor force are well explained by the model.
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