Capitol Investments

The Marketability of Political Skills
Glenn R. Parker
A sophisticated yet accessible analysis of the acquisition and marketability of political skills


What would you do if, the very day you were hired, you knew you could be unemployed in as little as two years? You'd seek opportunities in your current job to develop a portfolio of skills and contacts in order to make yourself more attractive to future employers. Representatives and senators think about their jobs in Congress in precisely this way, according to Glenn R. Parker.

While in office, members of Congress plan not merely for the next election but for the next stage of their careers. By networking, serving on committees, and championing particular legislation, they deliberately accumulate human capital—expertise, networks, and reputation—which later gives them advantages on the job market. Parker's study of the postelective careers of more than 200 former members of Congress who left office during the last half century shows that, in most cases, the human capital these politicians amassed while in office increased their occupational mobility and earning power.

Glenn R. Parker is Distinguished Professor of Political Science at Purdue University.

Praise / Awards

  • "Who would spend millions for a job that pays $250k? Parker's answer will surprise you. Required reading for Congress jocks."
    —Michael C. Munger, Chair of the Department of Political Science, Duke University

  • "A unique and interesting approach to the study of legislators and legislative institutions."
    —David Brady, Bowen H. and Janice Arthur McCoy Professor of Political Science and Leadership Values, Stanford University

  • "Parker's book is a valuable addition to the literature on Congress for providing a new conception of Congress [and] linking that conception to a critical concept from labor economics. ... Anyone interested in the question of what motivates individual Members of Congress will find insight and a plethora of new puzzles in Parker's book."
    Public Choice

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Copyright © 2008, University of Michigan. All rights reserved.

Classroom Resources

Discussion Questions | Word doc

Product Details

  • 6 x 9.
  • 216pp.
  • 5 figures & 34 tables.
Available for sale worldwide

  • Hardcover
  • 2008
  • Available
  • 978-0-472-07037-4

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  • $74.95 U.S.

  • Paper
  • 2011
  • Available
  • 978-0-472-05037-6

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  • $29.95 U.S.

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  • lobbyists, U.S. Congress, interest groups, legislative careers, human capital, former members of congress, post-elective employment of legislators, congressional politics and processes, political skills and training, legislators' salaries