Rense Corten Ineke Maas Chris Snijders

Status Attainment as a Competitive Process. A Theoretical and Empirical Study on the Implications of Boudon's Status Attainment Model



The typical status attainment approach assumes a purely individual-level process, disregarding that individuals are interdependent because status positions are scarce. In line with arguments by Thurow [1975] and Coleman [1987] we reanalyze and extend Boudon's [1974] model in which status attainment is modeled as a competitive process. We use computer simulations to derive testable predictions from this model under different circumstances. In line with previous studies, we find that Boudon's assertion that mobility is not affected by educational inequality does not hold in all circumstances. Furthermore, we extend Boudon's model by allowing the distribution of jobs to shift upwards (in line with modernization arguments), and find that this has complex and counterintuitive effects on status inequality. We test the hypotheses that we derive from the simulation on comparative data. Although not all hypotheses are supported, the results do lend support to the notion that status attainment is indeed a competitive process.


  • Inequality of educational opportunity
  • status
  • mobility
  • labor market
  • simulation


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