Dynamics of Senate Retirements

Theodore J. Masthay, L. Marvin Overby

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


Although there is a large literature on the career decisions of House members, there is a dearth of critical scholarship examining retirement decisions in the Senate. This study aims to address this under-explored topic and identify the key factors in Senate retirement decisions. With a less demanding election schedule, greater power afforded to individual senators, more prestige attached to the office, and fewer attractive options for progressive ambition, we find that Senate retirement decisions differ substantially from patterns observed in the House. Among other things, the partisan retirement differential that is so obvious and persistent in the House (with Republican MCs retiring at higher rates than Democrats) is markedly absent in the Senate. We explore this and other inter-chamber differences, discussing both their empirical and normative ramifications, and noting their importance for our understanding not only of the two chambers but also of the two parties.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)184-193
Number of pages10
JournalPolitical Research Quarterly
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 1 2017

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Sociology and Political Science


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