I previously asked this question in the physics forum (tag soft-question), but was convinced that it better suits in the academia forum. So I deleted it and posted it here.
I was recently asked to review a paper for a well-established physical journal, but as I have a lot to do in the moment, I'm tempted to refuse it. This is even more the case since I quit my scientific carreer roughly a year ago.
Thus my question: particularly outside physics, what are the benefits of being a referee? [beside the idealistic attitude of "bringing on physics" -- this is a valuable point in principle, but in reality, I've been long enough in the business to know that this is hardly the case for most papers. In contrast, most papers originate due to the need to continuously publish, a thing which I consider to be wrong].
For people in science, I see a clear opportunity in being a referee.
First, it gives you a connection to the journal editors and contributes to your authority.
Second, by concentrating on the paper, you are forced to learn something on your topic which might help you later. Further, you might be able to add citations to your own work and thus increase your influence.
Third, from a global point of view, you have to do it since you also expect your own papers to be reviewed (although this point is somewhat of a social dilemma, since [neglecting the previous points] it would be better to review as few as possible and concentrate on your own research).
However, do you see any personal advantages once you have quit physics? Are there maybe some if one plans to return some day?