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Congress is older, whiter, manlier than the rest of America


Ladies and gentlemen: Your United States Congress!

Congress now includes more women and Asians than ever, but it is considerably less diverse, older, better educated, more likely to have served in the military and not as likely to have been born abroad than Americans over all.

A statistical profile released this week by the Congressional Research Service also found that the average age of representatives (57.2) and senators (63.1) at the beginning of 2009 was among the highest ever.[...]

Only 27 representatives and one senator, Mark Begich of Alaska, have no educational degree beyond a high school diploma. Twenty-four House members hold doctoral degrees, and 168 congressmen and 57 senators have law degrees.

The proportion of military veterans has been steadily declining. The House has 96 veterans, the Senate 25.

Twelve representatives and one senator, Michael Bennet, Democrat of Colorado, who was born in India to American parents, are foreign-born.

A record 93 women (17.2 percent of the total membership) include 76 in the House (59 Democrats and 17 Republicans) and 17 in the Senate (13 Democrats and 4 Republicans).

A record 12 Asian, Hawaiian or Pacific Islanders (2 percent of the membership) include 2 senators, 8 representatives and 2 delegates.

The number of black members of Congress surpassed 40 for the first time in 1993, but since 1999 has remained between 39 and 43. Today, 41 (or 7.8 percent) serve in the House and one in the Senate (Roland W. Burris, Democrat of Illinois).

Twenty-eight House members and one senator (Robert Menendez, Democrat of New Jersey) are Hispanic, or 5.4 percent of both Houses.

Most members are Protestant, but Roman Catholics constitute the largest single religious denomination.

Full report here (pdf).

Photo credit: Senate Photo Studio

By Ezra Klein  |  February 10, 2010; 3:31 PM ET
Categories:  Congress  
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It may be more male, but it is certainly not manlier.

Posted by: JJenkins2 | February 10, 2010 3:35 PM | Report abuse

Older, whiter, and predominately male ...

Yup, that 'splains it ;)

Posted by: onewing1 | February 10, 2010 3:41 PM | Report abuse

How many people will jump on the lunacy of Congress being "manlier" than the rest of the country. Most of these male chumps in Congress could hardly be called manly.

Posted by: zeppelin003 | February 10, 2010 3:41 PM | Report abuse

And how many of them have ever been on unemployment, or not had full healthcare coverage for some portion of their lives? Obviously, not many.

Posted by: AuthorEditor | February 10, 2010 3:46 PM | Report abuse

Wasn't McCain born in Panama?

Posted by: citizenstx | February 10, 2010 3:56 PM | Report abuse

" Twenty-four House members hold doctoral degrees, and 168 congressmen and 57 senators have law degrees."

which ones couldnt be "burdened" to read the health care reform bill?

Posted by: jkaren | February 10, 2010 4:03 PM | Report abuse

"Ladies and Gentlemen: Your United States Congress!"

What's the point of this post, Ezra? Is it that because the Congress is predominantly white and male, the country is predominantly racist and misogynistic? After all, the individual districts and states chose their own representative, right?

Or do you mean to imply that Congress is ineffective because it's largely male and white? Inserting more ethnic and gender diversity would make it a better functioning institution, less likely to bow to partisan constituent groups or special interests?

Come on. If you have a problem with the cosmetic makeup of the institution, you really have a problem with the Democrat party. They make up over 60% of Congress.

This is a lazy and pandering post.

Posted by: superman32 | February 10, 2010 4:23 PM | Report abuse

You want manly? I'll give you manly. This Harvard prof who goes in search of coffee in the summer epitomizes manliness. (It's actually just the weirdest, most fawning, most giggle-inducing interview I think I've ever read, so for those of you who caught Ezra's interview with Lamar Alexander and thought nothing could top it, you'll want to check it out.)

Posted by: Jenn2 | February 10, 2010 4:52 PM | Report abuse

The problem is that incumbents rarely lose due to all the advantages afforded them. Not that they are especially effective as representatives. Maybe if they weren't so old and out of touch something would get done.

Posted by: Falmouth1 | February 11, 2010 7:44 AM | Report abuse

Congress, especially the Senate, also tends to be much wealthier than the rest of the country. Over 75% of Senators are millionaires. No wonder that Congress, especially the Senate, is always so willing to enact tax cuts for the wealthy. It's in their personal financial interests to do so.

Posted by: OHIOCITIZEN | February 11, 2010 8:30 PM | Report abuse

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