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Congressional symmetry: years remaining mirror years served in the U.S. House and Senate

Carey, James R., Eriksen, Brinsley and Rao, Arni S.R.Srinivasa (2023) Congressional symmetry: years remaining mirror years served in the U.S. House and Senate. Genus, 79 (5). ISSN 0016-6987

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Identification Number: 10.1186/s41118-023-00183-z


Our overarching goal in this paper was to both test and identify applications for a fundamental theorem of replacement-level populations known as the Stationary Population Identity (SPI), a mathematical model that equates the fraction of a population age x and the fraction with x years to live. Since true stationarity is virtually non-existent in human populations as well as in populations of non-human species, we used historical data on the memberships in both chambers of the U.S. Congress as populations. We conceived their fixed numbers (e.g., 100 Senators; 435 Representatives) as stationary populations, and their years served and years remaining as the equivalent of life lived and life remaining. Our main result was the affirmation of the mathematical prediction—i.e., the robust symmetry of years served and years remaining in Congress over the approximately 230 years of its existence (1789–2022). A number of applications emerged from this regularity and the distributional patterns therein including (1) new metrics such as Congressional half-life and other quantiles (e.g., 95% turnover); (2) predictability of the distribution of member’s years remaining; (3) the extraordinary information content of a single number—the mean number of years served [i.e., derive birth (b) and death (d) rates; use of d as exponential rate parameter for model life tables]; (4) the concept of and metrics associated with period-specific populations (Congress); (5) Congressional life cycle concept with Formation, Growth, Senescence and Extinction Phases; and (6) longitudinal party transition rates for 100% Life Cycle turnover (Democrat/Republican), i.e., each seat from predecessor party-to-incumbent party and from incumbent party-to-successor party. Although our focus is on the use of historical data for Congressional members, we believe that most of the results are general and thus both relevant and applicable to all types of stationary or quasi-stationary populations including to the future world of zero population growth (ZPG).

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: © 2023, The Author(s).
Divisions: International Relations
Subjects: J Political Science > JZ International relations
Date Deposited: 01 Mar 2023 14:57
Last Modified: 26 May 2024 16:03

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