Non-emergency exits : voluntary retirements from legislatures
[ACCESS RESTRICTED TO THE UNIVERSITY OF MISSOURI AT AUTHOR'S REQUEST.] Retirement is the main source of legislative turnover in the United States Congress. The incumbency advantage in congressional elections is so strong as to allow most members to decide to time their departure to align with their personal preferences. Much of the scholarly work on legislative retirements focuses on the House of Representatives. I identify this as a gap and extend this field of study to the Senate. I conclude that retirement decisions in the Senate do not mirror those in the House. Republicans retire at higher rates in the House of Representatives than their Democratic counterparts. There are several theories as to why this is the case, but the trend is an enduring one. Using a data set including every senator elected since the ratification of the 17th Amendment, which mandated their direct election, I compare Senate retirement patterns to those in the House. I find that the partisan effect seen in the House is essentially non-existent in the upper chamber. Instead, senators treat their time there as the natural end to their political career, usually eschewing the opportunity to seek higher office. However, this trend is relatively new, considering that before the middle of the 20th century electoral defeat was the most common way for senators to leave office. Finally, I extend my retirement analysis cross-institutionally to the European Parliament to further highlight the role of institutional arrangement on the career decisions of legislators.
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