June 04, 2019 | News | Rostock´s Eleven

Equality is only slowly gaining ground

© javiindy / photocase.com

People of high social status enjoy prestige and are deemed competent; people of low social status are viewed as less capable. But how can the predominant attitude of a society towards one of its subgroups change in the long run? MPIDR researcher André Grow is looking into this question. This is important as his answer, for example, could explain why women in industrialized countries still have a lower social status than men, although on average they are better educated. The researcher will present his results on the occasion of Rostock’s Eleven, to take place June 6th, 2019.

High-social-status individuals are regarded as competent. Low-social-status individuals are said to be less capable. Studies have shown that African Americans are viewed as less competent than their white compatriots. In Hungary, it is the Roma who are considered less competent, regardless of their true qualifications. The same applies to women in the industrialized nations: They continue to have a lower social status – despite having a higher level of education on average. The classical models aiming to explain social status formation in society are based on the assumption that people in personal interaction form a belief about the social status and competence of their vis-à-vis. The belief gained is then gradually spreading through the population. MPIDR researcher André Grow has his doubts about the existing models; he has thus extended them. In his advanced model, he assumes that people do not change their beliefs so readily when the belief on the status of a population group is consensual in their direct social environment. He also assumes that personal interaction very often only takes place in fixed, regional network structures, making a change in belief about specific population groups harder. It is important to develop such models because they help scientists gain a deeper understanding of how societal change works. André Grow’s model could, for example, explain why women in industrialized countries continue to have a lower social status than men, even though women have a higher level of education and pay levels between the sexes are slowly converging.

About Rostock's Eleven

Rostock's Eleven is a joint initiative of all research institutions in Rostock: Eleven young scientists from eleven research institutes in Rostock present the results of their research to  eleven science journalists from all over Germany. At the close of the event, the best presentation will receive a prize.


The Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research (MPIDR) in Rostock is one of the leading demographic research centers in the world. It's part of the Max Planck Society, the internationally renowned German research society.