The demographics of Congress

at 01:50 PM ET, 02/24/2012


(Source: Congressional Research Service)

In a new report, the Congressional Research Service breaks down how who represents us has changed over the past six decades:

Members in 2011 are older, more likely to identify a religious affiliation, and include more women and members of racial and ethnic groups than Members in 1945. The data suggest that since the 79th Congress, Members have had high levels of education, and worked in professional positions prior to coming to Congress. The number of Members who previously served in the military has risen and fallen, largely in tandem with the levels of service in the broader population.

As the above chart shows, the careers of those heading to Capitol Hill have changed significantly. Lawyers still account for about a third of legislators, but their ranks have declined dramatically since the 1980s. Bankers have also seen a drop-off, a possible counter-trend to earlier in the 20th century, when Congress came to be increasingly controlled by private-sector professionals. Military service among members, meanwhile, climbed steadily through World Wars I and II, but has been on the decline since the end of the Vietnam War.

(h/t: Catherine Rampell)

 
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