Quarterly Journal of Political Science > Vol 4 > Issue 2

Congressional Careers, Committee Assignments, and Seniority Randomization in the US House of Representatives

Michael Kellermann, Ph.D. Candidate, Department of Government and Institute for Quantitative Social Science, Harvard University, USA, kellerm@fas.harvard.edu Kenneth A. Shepsle, George D. Markham Professor of Government, Department of Government and Institute for Quantitative Social Science, Harvard University, USA, kshepsle@iq.harvard.edu
 
Suggested Citation
Michael Kellermann and Kenneth A. Shepsle (2009), "Congressional Careers, Committee Assignments, and Seniority Randomization in the US House of Representatives", Quarterly Journal of Political Science: Vol. 4: No. 2, pp 87-101. http://dx.doi.org/10.1561/100.00008061

Published: 07 Jul 2009
© 2009 M. Kellermann and K. A. Shepsle
 
Subjects
Legislatures
 

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In this article:
Seniority and Legislative Careers
Data and Models
Findings
Conclusion
References

Abstract

This paper estimates the effects of initial committee seniority on the career histories of Democratic members of the House of Representatives from 1949 to 2006. When more than one freshman representative is assigned to a committee, positions in the seniority queue are established by lottery. Randomization ensures that queue positions are uncorrelated in expectation with other legislator characteristics within these groups. This natural experiment allows us to estimate the causal effect of seniority on a variety of career outcomes. Lower-ranked committee members are less likely to serve as subcommittee chairs on their initial committee; are more likely to transfer to other committees; and have fewer sponsored bills passed in the jurisdiction of their initial committee. On the other hand, there is little evidence that the seniority randomization has a net effect on reelection outcomes or noncommittee bills passed.

DOI:10.1561/100.00008061

Replication Data | 100.00008061_supp.zip (ZIP).

This file contains the data that is required to replicate the data on your own system.

DOI: 10.1561/100.00008061_supp

Online Appendix | 100.00008061_app.zip (ZIP).

This is the article's accompanying appendix.

DOI: 10.1561/100.00008061_app