Ambitious Career-Seekers: An Analysis of Career Decisions and Duration in Latin America
Committee ChairMishler, William T.
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PublisherThe University of Arizona.
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AbstractMost everybody is ambitious about their own careers. Most of us aspire to be promoted to positions with greater responsibilities and benefits and have a clear sense of what we mean by a "successful career." Politicians are no different, and there is no apparent reason why they should be. However, unlike what happens in other occupations, politicians are forced periodically---i.e., at the end of each term they serve---to make a decision about what to do with their careers. This decision is made under the uncertainty about their ability to continue their careers according to their plans. The possibility of electoral defeat spares no one in spite of all that politicians do to avoid being voted out of office. Thus, at the end of each term, politicians must ponder what they want to do with their careers or where they want to go next. Politicians inform their decisions with their beliefs about their performance in office---or their performance as challengers---and their assessments of the difficulty of winning office in the following election. This raises the question about why some politicians decide to stay in office. Concretely, why do some politicians decide to get reelected while others seek election in "higher" or even "lower" offices? And also, why are some politicians more successful in having lasting careers? I focus on the career decisions that politicians make routinely and in the duration of their careers by considering individual and district factors that explain why politicians decide to run for particular offices and the length of their tenures.
Degree ProgramPolitical Science