Situational dissatisfaction in congress: Explaining voluntary departures

Michael K. Moore, John R. Hibbing

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

40 Scopus citations


Previous research on the motivations for voluntary departures from Congress has often focused on individual events, such as the check-writing scandal, on individual election years, such as 1974 or 1992, or has degenerated into a debate over whether or not members quit because the job is "no longer any fun." In this paper we use a dataset on House careers in the last half of the twentieth century and a synthetic theory to demonstrate that Congress is not universally "no fun," but rather that there are certain situations that lead some members to be less satisfied than others with congressional service. This notion fits well with the data and makes more sense than attempting to conclude whether Congress either is or is not fun. In the process, we show that members who are not achieving their goals are more likely than others to depart voluntarily from the U.S. House.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1088-1107
Number of pages20
JournalJournal of Politics
Issue number4
StatePublished - Nov 1998

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science


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