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The United States Congress consists of up to 541 individuals elected to represent a population of 335.9 million.

The 118th Congress in US history convened on January 3, 2023. Here’s a look at how the demographics of this legislative body compare to those of the people it represents.

What is the average age of Congress members?

At the start of the 118th Congress, the average senator was 64.0 years old, and the average representative was 57.9. These averages are lower than those of the previous Congress: senators are younger by about four months and representatives by about five. This decrease is due to a relatively young class of new members — the newly elected class of both senators (50.4 years old) and representatives (47.8) were younger at the start of this session than any of the three incoming classes before them.

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Congress is always likely to have a higher average age than the general population since there are age-based eligibility restrictions; the Senate has a minimum age requirement of 30, and members of the House of Representatives must be 25 or older.

According to the latest estimates from the US Census Bureau, the average American was 38.9 years old in 2022, up 0.2 years from 2021. Among voting-age Americans (18 and older), the average age is about 48.[1]

How many women are in Congress?

As of April 2024, there are 155 congresswomen in service. This includes 130 women in the House and 25 in the Senate. According to the Congressional Research Service (CRS), the number of women serving in Congress is 4.7% higher than at the beginning of the previous session, nearly three times what it was 30 years ago, and more than six times what it was 40 years ago.

Women make up 28.7% of the institution, compared to 50.4% of the American population, according to the US Census Bureau.

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Are there transgender or nonbinary members of Congress?

The CRS lists no transgender or nonbinary members of Congress. According to 2023 data from the Census Bureau’s Household Pulse Survey, about 1.0% of the nation’s adult population identifies as trans and 1.4% identifies as neither cisgender nor trans.

What are the racial and ethnic demographics of Congress?

As of April 2024, there are 65 African American members of Congress, 21 Asian American or Pacific Islander members, and five members who are enrolled members of Native American tribes. There are also 61 Hispanic or Latino congresspeople, including 55 serving in the House of Representatives and six in the Senate.[2]

2022 Census data indicates that the share of the population identifying as Black or African American was 15.0%, 3.2 percentage points higher than that group’s current 11.8% share of congressional seats. Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders made up 7.9% of the population, 4.0 points higher than their 3.9% representation in Congress. Native Americans comprise 2.2% of the population, while .9% of congresspeople are enrolled tribal members.[3]

Meanwhile, 19.1% of the American population is Hispanic, compared to 11.3% of Congress.[4]

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How many congresspeople were born outside the US?

Thirty-two members of Congress were born outside of the US, making 5.9% of the current session foreign-born. According to the Census Bureau, this is less than half the foreign-born share of the general population, which was estimated at 13.9% in 2022.

Congress has a higher educational level than the public

Educational level is one of the demographic areas in which Congress looks most different from the general population. College graduates have long made up a majority of Congress — as far back as 1961–1962, 76% of Congress had bachelor’s degrees. In today’s session, 99.0% of Senators and 93.8% of House members have bachelor’s degrees. Moreover, 79% of the Senate and 64% of the House have advanced degrees. More members of Congress have doctorates than those who don’t have bachelor’s degrees.

By comparison, 37.7% of the American population 25 and older had received a bachelor’s degree or higher in 2022, including 10.6% with a master’s degree and 2.1% with a doctorate.

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How many members of Congress are veterans?

When the 118th Congress convened, 18.1% of the body had served or was serving in the military, a total of 98 people. In 2023, the Department of Veteran’s Affairs estimated the overall US veteran population at 18.3 million, which is approximately 7.0% of the US adult population. This would mean the rate of veterans in Congress is more than three times the national rate.

How many members of Congress are religious?

According to the CRS, 96% of Congress is affiliated with a religion:

  • 56.7% are Protestant
  • 27.7% are Catholic
  • 6.2% are Jewish
  • 1.7% are Mormon

There are also three Muslim members, two Buddhist members, and two Hindu members, each comprising less than 1%. Twenty-two Members of Congress do not specify a religious affiliation.

The US government has limited data on the religious demographics of the nation, but what is available suggests that members of Congress are more affiliated with organized religion — particularly Christianity — than the public.

A 2016 Department of Justice report on religious discrimination cited that 22.8% of the country’s population was not religiously affiliated. Most of the country — 70.6% — was Christian, while 1.9% were Jewish, 0.9% were Muslim, and equal shares of 0.7% were Buddhist and Hindu.

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Membership of the 118th Congress: A Profile
Last updated
April 1, 2024
[1]

This average was calculated using the Census Bureau's annual estimates of the resident population by single year of age. This reports population by age to the year, so does not include partial years. All people over the age of 100 are counted as 100.

[2]

These racial and ethnic categories are not mutually exclusive.

[3]

The Census's definition of Native Americans is broader than Congress's. Congress only captures enrolled tribal members whereas Census allows people to self-identify as Native American.

[4]

The CRS Report "Membership of the 118th Congress: A Profile" does not include data on what portion of Congress is white.