Is There Life After Congress? Patterns and Determinants of Post-Congressional Careers
Legislative Studies Quarterly XXI:489-99

Little is known about the political activities of former members of Congress. Political pundits, journalists, and theories concerning subgovernment politics suggest former members have lucrative jobs with either bureaucracies or interest groups, but there is little confirmation of this. In this note we examine the post-congressional occupations of House members who retired between 1971 and 1992 and find that former members of Congress pursue a wide variety of careers. While many work for the government or interest groups, former members are more likely to leave career politics. Additionally, much of the variation in members' post-congressional careers can be explained by their interests and opportunities. Members who express interest in remaining politically active or see career opportunities in politics outside of Congress are likely to find jobs with the government or with interest groups. Conversely, members who are ill or have reached retirement age are likely to leave politics.