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Faculty Research Working Paper Series
David Yanagizawa-Drott
Associate Professor of Public Policy
Shaping the Nation: The Effect of Fourth of July on Political Preferences and Behavior in the United States
Madestam, Andreas, and David Yanagizawa-Drott. "Shaping the Nation: The Effect of Fourth of July on Political Preferences and Behavior in the United States." HKS Faculty Research Working Paper Series RWP12-034, August 2012.
Abstract
This paper examines whether social interactions and cultural practices affect political views and behavior in society. We investigate the issue by documenting a major social and cultural event at different stages in life: the Fourth of July celebrations in the United States during the 20th century. Using absence of rainfall as a proxy for participation in the event, we find that days without rain on Fourth of July in childhood shift adult views and voting in favor of the Republicans and increase turnout in presidential elections. The effects we estimate are highly persistent throughout life and originate in early age. Rain-free Fourth of Julys experienced as an adult also make it more likely that people identify as Republicans, but the effect depreciates substantially after a few years. Taken together, the evidence suggests that political views and behavior derive from social and cultural experience in early childhood, and that Fourth of July shapes the political landscape in the Unites States.
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