Meritocracy is a political system in which economic goods and/or political power are vested in individual people on the basis of talent, effort, and achievement, rather than wealth or social class.

Advancement in such a system is based on performance, as measured through examination or demonstrated achievement. Although the concept of meritocracy has existed for centuries, the term itself was coined in 1958 by the sociologist Michael Dunlop Young in his satirical essay The Rise of the Meritocracy.

Meritocracy in its wider sense, may be any general act of judgment upon the basis of various demonstrated merits; such acts frequently are described in sociology and psychology. Supporters of meritocracy do not necessarily agree on the nature of "merit"; however, they do tend to agree that "merit" itself should be a primary consideration during evaluation. Thus, the merits may extend beyond intelligence and education to any mental or physical talent or to work ethic. As such meritocracy may be based on moral character or innate abilities such as intelligence.

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