Using Sequence Analysis to Understand Career Progression: An Application to the UK House of Commons

By Matia Vannoni, IGIER, Bocconi University, and Peter John, Department of Political Economy, King’s College London

Abstract: We argue that sequence analysis, mainly used in sociology, may be effectively deployed to investigate political careers inside legislatures. Career progression is a classic topic in political science, but political scientists have mainly examined access to legislatures. Although data reduction methods, for instance, can provide insight, we argue that sequence analysis can be used to understand better the career patterns inside parliaments. In this paper, we explain the method. Then we show how it can describe steps in political careers and map different patterns of advancement. We apply sequence analysis to a case study of MPs in the UK House of Commons from 1997 to 2015. We describe the variety of career paths and carry out regression analysis on the determinants of MP career progression.

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